YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER! DISESTABLISHMENT OF PATERNITY

So you suspect that you might not be the baby’s father after all, what do you do???  Fla. Stat. § 742.18 establishes the circumstances under which a man may disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when he is not biological father of the child.

In order to disestablish paternity one must file a petition in the circuit court having jurisdiction over the child support obligation and be served on the mother or other legal guardian or custodian of the child OR if the child support was determined administratively and has not been ratified by a court, then the petition must be filed in the circuit court where the mother or legal guardian or custodian resides and served on DOR (dept. of revenue) and the mother or legal custodian. The petition must include, and the petitioner must be able to prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

(a)          Affidavit executed by the petitioner that newly discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child has come to petitioner’s knowledge since the initial paternity determination or establishment of child support obligation;

(b)          Scientific testing results, within 90 days prior to the filing of the Petition, indicate that the man cannot be the father of the child for whom child support is required OR an affidavit executed by the Petitioner stating that he did not have access to the child to have scientific testing performed prior to the filing of the Petition.  A man who suspects he is not the father but does not have access to the child to have scientific testing performed may file a petition requesting the court to order the child to be tested;

(c)           Affidavit executed by Petitioner stating that he is current on all child support payments or that he has substantially complied with his child support obligation and that any delinquency in the child support obligation arose from his inability for just cause to pay;

(d)          The male ordered to pay child support has not adopted the child;

(e)          The child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the male ordered to pay child support and the child’s mother were in wedlock;

(f)           The male ordered to pay child support did not act to prevent the biological father of the child from asserting his paternal rights with respect to the child;

(g)          The child was younger than 18 years of age when the petition was filed.

When is the Court prohibited from disestablishing paternity? Notwithstanding the above, a court shall not set aside a paternity determination if the male engaged in the following conduct after learning he is not the father of the child:

(a)          Married the mother of the child while known as the reputed father in accordance with Fla. Stat. § 742.091 and voluntarily assumed the parental obligation and duty to pay child support;

(b)          Acknowledged his paternity of the child in a sworn statement;

(c)          Consented to be named as the child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate;

(d)          Voluntarily promised in writing to support the child and was required to support the child based on that promise;

(e)          Received written notice from any state agency or any court directing him to submit to scientific testing which he disregarded;

(f)           Signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity as provided in Fla. Stat.§ 742.10(4).

Therefore, if you suspect you are not the biological father your child contact a qualified family law attorney immediately.  Otherwise you may unwittingly become the legal father of the child at issue.