How to Disestablish Paternity as a Married Man: An Overview of Florida Law
In Florida, a married man is presumed to be the legal father of his wife’s child. As such, parental rights and responsibilities take immediate effect. If the man later finds out that he is not the biological father, he may be able to disestablish paternity—though, it is not guaranteed.
Disproving paternity is complicated. There are specific procedures that must be followed. A test proving a man is not the biological father is not sufficient for a married man to disestablish paternity. In this article, our Tampa paternity lawyers discuss the relevant Florida law.
Florida Law: The Standard for Disestablishing Paternity
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 742.18), a married man may disestablish paternity and terminate parental responsibilities if he is not the biological father and if he is able to satisfy all other applicable criteria. As a general matter, a married man who wishes to disestablish paternity must prove/provide the following three things:
- A Scientific Test: There must be a valid, properly conducted scientific test demonstrating that the man is not the biological father of the child. The test should be recent.
- New Evidence: A married man can only disestablish paternity if he is doing so on the basis of ‘new evidence’. If a man knew that he was not the biological father of his wife’s child, but then he accepted the role as the legal father, he cannot change his mind. New evidence is a must.
- Eligibility Under State Law: Finally, the man must prove his eligibility under Florida law. Certain actions could make a man ineligible to bring a disestablishment claim. As an example, if a married man previously tried to block the actual biological father’s attempt to assert parental rights, he may be deemed ineligible.
These are very time-sensitive cases. If a man waits too long to act, a Florida court may refuse to hear the claim. To initiate a disestablishment of paternity case, a man must submit a sworn affidavit confirming that he discovered new evidence that indicated that he was not the biological father of the child.
Disestablished Paternity: Parental Rights and Responsibilities Will Be Extinguished
It is important to emphasize the ramifications of disestablishing paternity. Doing so is no small step. A man who disestablishes paternity under Florida law will lose all parental rights and parental responsibilities. It works in both directions. The man can no longer be ordered to pay child support, nor does he have the ability to seek custody or visitation. Legally speaking, the relationship with the child is terminated.
Call Our Tampa, FL Paternity Lawyers for Immediate Help With Your Case
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our family attorneys have extensive experience handling the complete range of paternity cases. If you have questions about disestablishing paternity, we are here to get answers. For a comprehensive, confidential case evaluation, please contact us now. We represent parents throughout the region, including in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.