Suing for Paternity After an Extramarital Affair Might Break Up Someone Else’s Marriage, but It Won’t Make You a Father
Infidelity is a common cause of divorce, but some marriages survive after one partner cheats, and sometimes the betrayed spouse does not even find out about the affair. Breaking your silence about an extramarital affair years after it ends is a sure way to cause hurt feelings in an entire family, and it may or may not result in you having a more honest and trusting relationship with any of the people affected. What do you do, though, if you father a child with a woman who is married to someone else? Can the child ever legally be yours? What is in the child’s best interest? Even in the age of DNA paternity testing, the family courts in Florida tend to regard men who claim to be the biological fathers of children born to another man and his wife as troublemakers and slanderers instead of as serious candidates to get legal or physical custody of the child. Of course, every case is unique, but if you are not married to your child’s mother when the child is born, it is in your interest and the child’s for you to act quickly to establish yourself as a presence in the child’s life. The sooner you contact a Florida child custody lawyer, the better.
Details of the Slowinski Case
The child at the center of this case was born to John Slowinski and his wife, and thus, Slowinski was the child’s legal father from the beginning. After Mrs. Slowinski died, Patrick Sweeney sued to establish himself as the child’s legal father; he had a DNA paternity test proving that he was the child’s biological father. The trial court granted Sweeney legal and physical custody of the child. This was, needless to say, a major disruption in the child’s life; not only had he lost his mother, but now he was being given to a perfect stranger and taken away from the father he had known his whole life.
Slowinski appealed the decision; he argued that the trial court should never have entertained Sweeney’s appeal in the first place. The appeal court reversed the trial court’s decision, re-established Slowinski as the child’s legal father, and granted him legal and physical custody of the child. It agreed with him that the trial court should have automatically dismissed Sweeney’s lawsuit. It reasoned that, when a child is born to an “intact marriage,” the child’s biological father may not challenge the paternity of the mother’s husband. Suing to be designated as a child’s legal father is only permissible when the mother is unmarried at the time of the child’s birth. In other words, if the mother is unmarried, the child needs a legal father; if she is married, the child already has one.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you have not been involved in your child’s life until recently, do not delay meeting with a lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Contact the Boca Raton child custody lawyers at Schwartz | White about your case.