Generally, a man that is the biological father of a child can seek parental rights. Relatively recent advances in reproductive technology can result in situations in which it is necessary to determine whether a man is a child’s father or merely a sperm donor. For example, in a recent Florida case, a former couple called on a court to determine whether a man had paternity rights over a child born via IVF. If you need assistance with a paternity matter, it is advisable to speak to a Florida paternity lawyer to determine what steps you can take to protect your interests.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the father and the mother were involved in a romantic relationship, during which they entered into a contract to have a child via in vitro fertilization. The IVF transfer took place in September 2019, but the parties ended their relationship a month later. The child was born in June 2020. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a paternity lawsuit seeking parental rights on the grounds that he and the mother were a commissioning couple as defined by Florida law.
Allegedly, the mother moved to dismiss his petition, arguing that he was merely a sperm donor. During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, the trial court sought evidence from both parties without notice, after which it found the parties were a commissioning couple and granted the father parental rights. The mother appealed, arguing that the trial court violated her due process rights by holding an evidentiary hearing without notice.
Paternity Rights in Cases Involving Babies Born Via IVF
Under Florida law, due process requires that parties must be granted notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Denial of either of these rights constitutes a fundamental error. The goal of a hearing on a motion to dismiss is to test whether a complaint is legally sufficient, not to determine factual disputes. Thus, in reviewing a motion to dismiss, the trial court is limited to the four corners of the complaint.
In the subject case, the appellate court agreed with the mother that the trial court violated her right to due process by conducting an evidentiary hearing without notice or granting her a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The appellate court elaborated that the trial court did not merely determine whether the father’s complaint was legally sufficient but improperly determined that the parties were a commissioning couple. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling and remanded for further proceedings.
Meet with an Experienced Miami Family Law Attorney
While in most paternity cases, the identity of a child’s biological father is disputed, in some instances it may be necessary to establish paternity rights even when the biological father of a child is known. If you are involved in a dispute over the paternity of your child, it is smart to speak to an attorney about your options. The experienced Miami paternity lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your rights and help you to strive for the best result available under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly help people with custody matters in Miami. You can contact us via our online form or by calling 800-596-0579 to set up a consultation.