When the Child isn’t His: Disestablishing Paternity in Boca Raton
Paternity is the legal process that establishes a child’s biological father, thus giving him parental rights to the child. Establishing paternity provides valuable protections to both parents and child. For parents, they are able to petition the court for child support and child custody. For the child, they receive not only financial and medical support, but are able to build a relationship with the father as well.
But what if the scenario is switched? Perhaps the wife became pregnant as the result of an affair, and the husband does not want the obligation of caring for the child, emotionally or financially? Or the husband claims the child as his own, but the wife, knowing the baby is not his, doesn’t want him involved because she has moved on with the baby’s biological father?
In these cases, the parties will need to disestablish paternity.
Terminating Parental Rights in Florida by Disestablishment of Paternity
As we discussed in a previous article, Florida law presumes that a child born to a married couple is the biological child of the husband. This means that if the wife became pregnant during the course of an affair, the husband would be child’s legal father, and his name would be placed on the birth certificate, despite the fact that the child is not biologically his. This is true even if the wife, the husband, or both know that the child’s biological father is somebody else.
If, however, the husband does not want to have any emotional or financial ties to the child, for example if the affair leads to divorce, he will need to disestablish paternity through the court. Again, he must do this even if the wife swears in court documents that the child is not his.
A petition to disestablish paternity can be made at any time when the “father” discovers that he is not the biological father of the child he thought was his. The petition must state the following:
- New evidence, unavailable at the initial determination of paternity or since the issuance of a child support order, has been discovered proving no biological link between the “father” and “child”;
- Testing done no more than 90 days prior to filing the petition shows that the man cannot be the child’s father, and;
- The male is current on his child support obligation, or has a justifiable reason for delinquency, i.e., a legitimate inability to pay.
If the male is unable to gain access to the child in order to have testing done that would disestablish paternity, he can request access in the petition for the purpose of testing.
If the above requirements are met, the court will enter an order disestablishing paternity, thus severing the male’s obligation to pay future child support and terminating any rights to custody of, or visitation with, the child.
There are, however, some circumstances where the father cannot disestablish paternity, even though he is not the child’s biological child:
- If the man legally adopted the child;
- If the child was conceived via artificial insemination using another man’s sperm, if conception occurred during the marriage;
- If he married the child’s mother and assumed parental responsibility;
- If he signed an acknowledgement of paternity or consented to his name being listed on the birth certificate;
- If he voluntarily, and in writing, agreed to support the child, or;
- If he failed to submit to a paternity test as requested by a government agency.
Boca Raton Paternity Attorneys
If you believe that you are not the biological father of your purported child, the Boca Raton paternity lawyers at Schwartz l White can help. Our attorneys have more than 40 years’ experience handling parental rights cases and can help you disestablish paternity. Call us today at 561.391.9943 to schedule your free initial consultation.