PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT EX REL
Circuit Court for Prince George's County Case No.
Deborah S., Graeff, Nazarian, JJ.
Prince George's County Office of Child Support
Enforcement (the "Office") appeals an order of the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County setting aside
affidavits of parentage that Michael Lovick had executed in
the District of Columbia, where his long-time girlfriend had
given birth to twins, and striking an earlier order requiring
him to pay child support. The Office claims that the circuit
court failed to extend full faith and credit to the D.C.
affidavits and that the passage of more than two years
precluded Mr. Lovick from seeking to set them aside. Mr.
Lovick responds that his child support obligations are
controlled by Maryland law, which allows a court to set aside
a declaration of paternity after a court-ordered genetic test
excludes him as the twins' father, as a test did here. We
agree with Mr. Lovick and affirm.
October 4, 2011, Mr. Lovick's girlfriend, Angela Rice,
gave birth to twin girls ("the twins") at
Georgetown University Hospital in the District of Columbia.
Mr. Lovick and Ms. Rice lived in Prince George's County
at the time the twins were born, and both live there still.
Two days after the twins' birth, Mr. Lovick signed, at
the hospital, an Acknowledgment of Paternity (the
"Acknowledgment" or the "affidavit")
stating that he was the twins' father. As part of the
Acknowledgment, Ms. Rice affirmed that Mr. Lovick was the
only possible biological father of her children.
couple separated, and in February 2013, Ms. Rice filed a
complaint in the circuit court seeking custody of the twins.
She and Mr. Lovick later agreed to share legal custody and
that Ms. Rice would have primary physical custody. After they
entered this agreement, Mr. Lovick contacted the Office to
initiate a child support case. A child support action was
initiated,  and in February 2014, Mr. Lovick agreed to
pay $1, 500 per month in child support.
2016, Mr. Lovick filed a motion to establish paternity in
both cases and requested a court-ordered genetic test. This
motion followed Mr. Lovick's discovery that Ms. Rice had
been involved sexually with another man around the time the
twins were conceived and the results of private genetic
testing that revealed Mr. Lovick was not the twins'
father. The circuit court denied the motion.
September 16, 2016, Mr. Lovick filed a new motion in the
child support case to set aside the Acknowledgment on the
basis of fraud. After a hearing in December, the circuit
court ordered genetic testing and scheduled a follow-up
hearing. The test results excluded any possibility that Mr.
Lovick was the twins' father. And at the hearing, the
circuit court agreed with Mr. Lovick that Ms. Rice had
Ms. Rice said he is the only possible father. And it's
quite apparent that that was a lie. That was an out and out
lie…. It's obvious that it's not Mr. Lovick.
It's obvious that she lied on the affidavit… I
can't, in good conscience, let Ms. Rice falsify that
affidavit and charge this man with child support.
March 28, 2017, the circuit court entered an order setting
aside the Acknowledgment of Paternity and striking the
February 2014 child support order. The Office filed a timely
Office challenges, on three grounds, the circuit court's
decisions to set aside the Acknowledgment of Parentage and
strike the child support order. First, the Office
contends that the court should have applied the law of the
District of Columbia, which prohibits challenges to
Affidavits of Parentage more than two years after execution,
and dismissed Mr. Lovick's motion to set aside his
Affidavit. By applying Maryland law, the Office argues, the
circuit court failed to extend full faith and credit to the
Affidavit. Second, the Office asserts that Mr.
Lovick could not prove fraud, duress, or a material mistake
of fact in connection with the Affidavit. And third,
the Office argues that Mr. Lovick is estopped from
disclaiming the twins' paternity because, in the custody
case, he had sought to increase his visitation with them
after he learned that he was not their father.
the trial court's decision involves an interpretation and
application of Maryland statutory and case law, our Court
must determine whether the lower court's conclusions are
legally correct." Clickner v. Magothy River,
424 Md. 253, 266 (2012) (cleaned up). We will not set aside a
circuit court's fact findings unless they are clearly
erroneous, Clickner, 424 Md. at 266, but we review
questions of law denovo. Harvey v.
Marshall, 389 Md. 243, 257 (2005). Here, neither party
disputes that Mr. Lovick is not the twins' biological