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Lamentations of the Statutory Stranger


In practice, the definition of “parent” is much broader than it is in family law.  The person you consider your real mom or dad is someone who has been a consistent presence in your life since your childhood and who has provided you with moral guidance and unconditional love.  The person might not be your biological parent, and they might not be related to either of your biological parents by blood or marriage.  By law, a child can have no more than two legal parents.  In the best-case scenario, the child has many parental figures in his or her life, the court must decide (based on predetermined legal rules) which two are the legal parents.  In the worst-case scenario, no one wants to take responsibility for the child, and the court must decide, based on the same rules, who should be responsible.  It may not seem fair, but the law is unambiguous about the fact that legal parents have the legal right to spend time with the children and make decisions, and, with very few exceptions, no one else does.  If you want to become your child’s legal parent, contact a South Florida paternity lawyer.

When a Florida Court Awarded Parental Rights to a Sperm Donor

The law provides that a person who donates sperm, oocytes (egg cells), or very early embryos as part of an assisted reproductive treatment is not a parent.  Before Lori Lamaritata conceived her twin sons through intrauterine insemination, she signed an agreement with the sperm donor, Danny Lucas, that he would be excluded from any parental rights or responsibilities toward any children conceived as a result of the procedure.  In 1998, Danny took a paternity test that proved that he was the children’s biological father.  He then sued to establish visitation; in her response was that if he gets visitation, he must also pay child support.  The court granted him visitation every other weekend, plus Boxing Day and Father’s Day.  In 2002, an appeals court reversed the ruling, citing a law that states that a sperm donor is a statutory stranger, defined as anyone other than a legal parent.

If You Love Someone, Make Your Parental Relationship Official

The cases cited in Lamaritata v. Lucas, about other statutory strangers excluded from children’s lives because of a lack of legal parental relationship are heartbreaking, and there are so many other cases like them.  These are just some examples:

  • A former stepfather unable to get visitation with the child after divorcing the child’s mother
  • A biological father, because the mother married another man (who became the child’s legal father) shortly before the child’s birth
  • The biological father’s parents, after the children’s stepfather adopted the children
  • Countless women who raised children with their female partners but separated before same sex marriage became legal, such that only the woman who gave birth to the children maintained parental rights (some of these cases use the term “psychological parent,” but the law does not recognize such a category

The bottom line is that, if you want to be in a child’s life permanently, you should establish legal paternity as early as possible.  Likewise, if you are a woman or a person of nonbinary gender and you never want to lose your relationship with the children of your female partner, you can become legally recognized as the child’s “second parent” and be listed as such on the birth certificate.

Contact Us Today for Help

A Boca Raton paternity lawyer can help you protect your relationship with your children, even if you and your partner break up and your partner marries someone else.  Contact Schwartz | White for help today.

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