If you have been legally established as the father of a child and had later discovered you are not biologically related to the child, you may desire to remove yourself from the legal classification of father and remove the financial responsibility associated with the relationship. When you proceed into a legal action to disestablish paternity, you will need to request specific relief from the court. Discuss with your family law attorney the options and relief available to you in a disestablishment of paternity action.
Florida Statute 742.18 governs the disestablishment of paternity for a child. The first step is to file a Petition to Disestablish Paternity or Terminate Child Support with the court. The petition must contain, “an affidavit executed by the [father] that newly discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child has come to [his] knowledge since the initial paternity determination; the results of scientific tests that are generally acceptable within the scientific community to show a probability of paternity, administered within 90 days prior to the filing of such petition, which results indicate that the male ordered to pay such child support cannot be the father of the child for whom 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; and an affidavit executed by the petitioner stating that the petitioner is current on all child support payments for the child for whom relief is sought or that he has substantially complied with his child support obligation for the applicable child and that any delinquency in his child support obligation for that child arose from his inability for just cause to pay the delinquent child support when the delinquent child support became due.” The new evidence can include statements made by the mother of the child or third parties questioning the validity of paternity or a genetic test. Further, if delinquent on some child support payments you will need to provide adequate detail as to the basis for your delinquency.
The court will move to disestablish paternity upon finding the facts in the petition to be legally sufficient in addition to finding that “the male ordered to pay child support has not adopted the child; the child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the male ordered to pay child support and the child’s mother were in wedlock; 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; and the child was younger than 18 years of age when the petition was filed.” If these items are satisfied and there are no available defenses; the court may proceed to provide relief to the party.
The relief awarded in a disestablishment of paternity action is limited strictly to prospective action only. This includes future child support payments, and the termination of parental rights, including custody and visitation. The father may not recover any of the previously paid child support payments. Therefore, upon the discovery of your possible paternity disestablishment it is in your best interest to seek legal action immediately. Further, during the pendency of your petition you are still required to make the court ordered payments, however, you may request these payments be held in the registry until a final judgment is entered.
When seeking to disestablish paternity, it is important to understand the remedies and implications of this action in detail. This type of case requires significant legal action and therefore, you should discuss your specific situation with a qualified paternity attorney who can assess your case and fight for your rights.
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