Court Discusses Establishing Paternity Under Florida Law

Florida law presumes that when a baby is born to a married man and woman, the man is the father of her child. Similarly, if a man acknowledges he is the father of a child born out of wedlock, the court will presume he is the child’s father. Issues can arise, though, when the courts are faced with competing presumptions of paternity, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions about establishing paternity, it is advisable to meet with a Miami paternity attorney to determine what steps you can take to protect your interests.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married in 2008, but by late 2012, they were separated. Neither filed for divorce. During this period, the wife had a casual sexual relationship with the purported father while also engaging in intercourse with the husband during one of his visits to Florida. The wife became pregnant and informed the purported father that he was the father, while telling the husband otherwise.

It is alleged that the purported father, believing he was the father, signed the child’s birth certificate. However, paternity testing later revealed that the husband was the biological father. Subsequently, the wife sought to establish the husband’s paternity. The trial court determined that establishing paternity in favor of the purported father was in the child’s best interest due to competing presumptions of paternity and adjudicated him to be the father. The husband appealed.

Establishing Paternity Under Florida Law

On appeal, the court reversed, finding that the trial court erred in its application of the law. While the trial court acknowledged competing presumptions of paternity—favoring the purported father under Florida Statutes and the husband under common law—the court determined that the presumption of legitimacy favored the husband due to his continuing marriage to the wife at the time of conception and birth.

Further, the court explained that despite the trial court’s view that the marriage was effectively over, the law did not provide for exceptions based on the status of a marriage. Moreover, since the purported father was not the biological father, he lacked standing to contest paternity once paternity testing ruled him out. In other words, as the court noted, Florida law mandates the dismissal of a paternity case when the alleged father is excluded by DNA testing. Consequently, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its ruling.

Speak with a Seasoned Miami Attorney

Florida law presumes paternity in certain situations, but that presumption can be overcome by direct evidence of paternity. If you need assistance establishing the paternity of a child, it is smart to speak with an attorney about your options. The seasoned Miami paternity lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are adept at navigating the complexities of paternity proceedings, and if you hire us, we will fight to help you seek a just outcome. You can contact us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to arrange a conference.

Posted in:
Published on:

Comments are closed.