- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected Friday a constitutional challenge to the state’s four-year statute of limitations on paternity requests in the case of a man who sought paternity and custody of an 8-year-old child born to a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair.

The high court rejected the man’s claim that the limit discriminates against fathers, saying it has been applied to both men and women over the years. The ruling means people seeking to establish paternity of a child still have only four years from the birth of the child to file such a request.

The case stems from a petition filed by Bryan Murdoch, of Union, who according to court records had an affair with a woman in 2003 and 2004 while they were both married to other people. The woman, listed as Anne B. in the opinion, broke off the relationship when she became pregnant. Murdoch said he asked several times whether he was the father of the child, and the woman told him he was not. The woman and her husband have raised the child since.

In 2012, Murdoch and the woman resumed their affair, and Murdoch took a DNA test to determine paternity of the child, which showed he was the biological father. In 2013, he sought to establish paternity and custody of the child, but a Cass County District Court dismissed the case, and Murdoch appealed.

Murdoch argued, among other things, that the statute of limitations clock should not have started when the child was born because the mother had told him he wasn’t the father. He also argued that the limit violates his equal protection rights because it discriminates against fathers.

But the high court found that Murdoch knew he could be the father and did not take action soon enough to establish paternity. It also rejected his claim that the limit is a misguided attempt to protect the “legitimacy” of a child born during a marriage.

“(T)he state certainly has a legitimate interest in protecting children from being removed from their homes and stability after an extended period has passed,” Justice John Wright wrote.

Murdoch, who is still married to his wife of 28 years, said Friday that he hopes to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court because he believes the woman and her husband are unfit parents. He also said he was “tricked into an affair.”

Asked why he didn’t seek a paternity test earlier, Murdoch said he believed her assertions that he wasn’t the father.

An attorney for the woman was out of the country Friday and could not be reached for comment. An attorney for her husband did not immediately return a phone message.

Murdoch’s attorney, John Kinney, said courts seem to hold an outdated view of paternity in an age of blended families made up of stepparents, stepchildren and half siblings.

“The notion that this child should not get to have any relationship with his biological father because need to preserve the family unity of the biological mother and her husband and this child - I don’t think is squares with reality,” Kinney said.

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