When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is automatically presumed to be the child’s father. While many fathers are happy to be parents, the designation can become complicated if an individual discovers that he may not be the child’s biological father. In these cases, the man may wish to disestablish paternity, thereby terminating his parental rights to visitation and the obligation to pay child support. However, this is a notoriously difficult process, so if you have concerns about your own child’s paternity, it is critical to speak with an experienced paternity lawyer who can explain your legal options.
Before a person can disestablish paternity, he must first initiate a petition, which must be submitted within two years of the child’s birth or within two years of learning that the child may not be his biological offspring. Florida law also requires that the following information or documentation be included with the petition when attempting to disestablish paternity:
- An affidavit attesting that the petitioner discovered evidence that put the paternity of his child into question;
- The results of a scientific genetic test that was administered within the last 90 days; and
- An affidavit stating that the petitioner is current on all child support payments.
In the event that a petitioner does not have access to a child to have a genetic test performed, he can ask the court to issue a court order requiring the child to be tested. Further, an individual cannot petition the court to disestablish paternity if:
- He adopted the child; or
- The child was conceived by artificial insemination while the petitioner and the child’s mother were married.
Even if all of the necessary factors are met, a petitioner’s claim could still be denied. For example, if there is evidence that the petitioner blocked the child’s biological father from asserting his parental rights, his petition to disestablish paternity will be denied. A petitioner’s claim will also be denied if the court discovers evidence that after he found out that he wasn’t the child’s father he took one of the following actions:
- He married the child’s mother while he was known as the father and voluntarily assumed the obligation to pay child support;
- He acknowledged paternity in a sworn statement;
- He consented to be named as the child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate;
- He voluntarily promised in writing to support the child;
- He received and disregarded a notice from a state agency or a court directing him to submit to DNA testing; or
- He signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.
In these cases, a father’s petition to disestablish paternity will almost always be denied. In the event that a petition is granted, the child will be issued a new birth certificate and the petitioner will no longer be obligated to pay child support or have the right to visitation.
Get Legal Advice Today
To speak with experienced paternity lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your own paternity-related questions, please call 954-945-7591 today. Our Fort Lauderdale legal team is prepared to assist you immediately.