Florida Court Analyzes Assisted Reproductive Technology in the Context of Paternity

It goes without saying that people do not have to be romantically involved in order to conceive a child, and in some instances, friends will choose to embark on the journey of parenthood together. When people who are not married or a couple use unorthodox means to conceive a child, it may confound the courts with regard to defining parental rights, however. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in which the court overruled a trial court order denying a father’s request for timesharing due to the fact that the child in question was conceived via artificial insemination. If you want to establish your right to custody or timesharing, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami child custody attorney about your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father, who were friends, decided to conceive a child via an at-home artificial insemination process. A few years after the child was born, the father filed a petition to establish paternity and to have timesharing rights. In the mother’s answer to the petition, she acknowledged the father’s paternity and agreed that the court should establish a parenting plan and a timesharing schedule.

Allegedly, the trial court entered a temporary order granting the father timesharing rights. Eighteen months after the filing of the petition, the trial court held a hearing, after which the court issued a final judgment in which it noted that the father had been a constant presence in the child’s life and that both parties put the child’s interests ahead of their own and were flexible with regard to time sharing. Regardless, the trial court denied the father’s petition on the grounds that Florida’s law regarding assisted reproductive technology barred it from granting the father’s request. The father appealed.

Assisted Reproductive Technology in the Context of Paternity

On appeal, the father argued that the trial court erred in finding that the Florida law regarding assisted reproductive technology applied in his case. The court ultimately agreed and reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that in denying the father’s request the trial court relied on language in the statute in question stating that anyone that donates genetic material, other than a father that has signed a preplanned adoption agreement or a commissioning couple, relinquishes their parental rights with regard to the resulting children.

In doing so, however, the trial court failed to consider other related statutes, under which it was clear that the father was not a donor and the process of conceiving the child did not constitute assisted reproductive technology. Thus, the court vacated the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Trusted Miami Attorney

Regardless of whether parties agree that the courts should approve a custody arrangement that grants both parents parental rights, the court will only grant such a request if it determines it will be in the subject child’s best interest. If you need assistance with a custody issue, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in custody matters in Miami. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.