Disestablishing Paternity in Florida
Disestablishing paternity is the legal process where a man seeks to terminate a child support obligation or terminate paternity because he is not the biological father of the child(ren) in question. It’s important to note that in these cases, legal paternity is different than biological paternity. Someone who fathered a child is the biological father, but legal paternity is defined slightly different.
Legal Paternity vs Biological Paternity
Biological paternity can be proven by genetic testing. Legal paternity refers to someone who has the rights and responsibilities of being a parent to a child. He may or may not be the biological father, but he is legally responsible for the child’s upbringing and welfare. He also has established a parental relationship with the child and has the rights to see him or her.
Establishing legal paternity can be done in one of four ways. These are:
- Court order
How to Disestablish Paternity
If you wish to disestablish paternity, you must present a reason that you are not the father of the child. The process begins by filing a petition to disestablish paternity and terminate any existing child support orders. The mother of the child must be put on notice of the petition. If there is a valid child support order in place, it’s a good idea to send a copy of the petition to the Department of Revenue as well.
When filing your petition, you will need to include an affidavit which details the reason for disestablishing your paternity. Evidence that surfaced since the paternity was established or the court ordered child support was issued could be the reason why you are filing the petition now.
You will need to show proof of genetic testing that, as the legal father, you are most likely not the biological father. In the event there is an inability to have the DNA test done, typically due to the mother refusing to cooperate, then you will need to also submit a sworn statement that you were unable to obtain the genetic sample. The court may go ahead and issue a genetic test.
In addition, you need to include another sworn statement regarding the status of child support payments. Typically, you can’t be in arrears when you petition to disestablish paternity. In the event you are, there must be a solid explanation as to why there are past due payments, and you must provide evidence which shows that you made a substantial attempt to comply with the court ordered payments.
The court will take everything under submission and render a decision in the matter. If your petition is granted, your parental rights and obligations will end. However, you do not get a refund of previously paid child support.
Retaining a Florida Paternity Attorney
While filing a petition for disestablishing paternity sounds pretty straight forward, it can be a complex process. It’s important to speak with a skilled Florida paternity attorney before proceeding. Contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.