Paternity Fraud: What Are Your Legal Rights?
Imagine how betrayed you would feel if you suddenly found out that your children were not genetically related to you, even though you had been married to their mother since before they were born. Finding out that your wife cheated on you is bad enough, but the fact that her lies deprived you of a connection to your children that you thought was certain is even worse. Paternity fraud is not nearly as common as tall tales exchanged at poker night might lead you to believe, but it does happen. Florida’s paternity laws are sufficiently complex to account for the various ways in which men become fathers, whether through genetics or some other means. If you want to establish legal paternity or plan to find out if you are a child’s biological father and want to know what the legal consequences are, contact a South Florida family law attorney.
How Paternity Laws Work in Florida
If you are married to the child’s mother when the child is born, you are the legal father. If you are not married to the mother, you become the legal father by filing a voluntary declaration of paternity, which becomes irrevocable 60 days after you file it. Neither of these involve DNA testing, and the only way to stop being a child’s legal father is to terminate your parental rights, which requires the involvement of the family courts. The court only requires a DNA test when there is no legal father and the mother wants to collect child support from a man she believes is the biological father or when she applies for public assistance. Finding out years later that you are not the biological father does not change your status as the legal father. The children are still yours.
The Parker Case: The Legal Father Pays Child Support, Not the Biological Father
Richard and Margaret Parker were married to each other from 1996 to 2001, and their child was born in 2001. They went back to court in 2003, because Margaret was trying to collect the child support payments that Richard had been unable to pay. During these court proceedings, Richard expressed doubt that he was the biological father and alleged that Margaret had been unfaithful during their marriage. They took a DNA paternity test, which excluded Richard as the biological father. The trial court and an appeals court ruled that Richard, as the legal father, was still responsible for paying child support. The time for Richard to raise his doubts about his wife’s infidelity was when he first suspected her of cheating, not after they had been divorced for years and the child had grown attached to him as a father.
Let Us Help You Today
If you are the legal parent, you bear financial responsibility to the children. A family law attorney can ensure that you do not get stuck with an unfair or excessive child support obligation. Contact the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at Schwartz | White about your case.