Florida Court Discusses the Right to Disestablish Paternity

Many parties have children outside of the context of marriage, and while in some cases paternity is not at issue, in others, legal action is necessary to define a child’s parentage. Once a man has been legally established as the father of a child, pursuant to Florida law, it is difficult to disestablish paternity. While the law allows fathers to reverse course on paternity in some cases, the same is not necessarily true for mothers, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you have questions regarding paternity and your parental rights, you should contact a trusted Miami paternity lawyer to evaluate your options.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the parties conceived the child in question in April 2014. They subsequently entered into a stipulation confirming the father’s paternity, and a court ratified it via order in 2016. Later that year, the mother filed a petition to relocate to Colorado with the child. The trial court denied the motion, and the child remained in Florida with the father and had visitation with the mother in the summer.

Reportedly, in 2017, the mother stated that she remembered an encounter with another man around the time the child was conceived. A DNA test determined the second man to be the child’s father within 99.99% certainty. The mother then moved to disestablish the father’s paternity pursuant to Florida Statute 742.18 and other provisions. The trial court granted summary judgment in her favor, and the father appealed.

Disestablishing Paternity

The appellate court reversed the trial court ruling on appeal. The court explained that Florida Statute 742.18 allows fathers to disestablish paternity when it is revealed they are not the father of a child, and as the law only applied to men seeking to disestablish paternity, the trial court committed an error in granting the wife’s petition. The court stated that the mother may be able to disestablish paternity if the case involved a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, but it did not.

Finally, the court found that it would be entirely improper to remove the child from the care of the father, as it would most likely not be in the child’s best interests to be removed from the care of someone who had raised him his entire life. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling,

Meet with a Seasoned Miami Attorney

Paternity grants both parents the right to seek custody and support, and once paternity has been established, it is typically permanent. If you have concerns regarding the paternity of a child, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. The seasoned Miami paternity attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your rights and assist you in seeking the best legal result possible under the facts or your case.  We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently help people with paternity issues in Miami. You can reach us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.




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