Disestablishing Paternity in Florida to Terminate the Child Support Obligation
In some situations, a father may need his paternity to be disestablished. But why? Let’s review an example.
When an unmarried couple has a child, the paternity will be established at birth, either through genetic testing or voluntarily. If paternity was established, the father assumes the obligation to provide for the child.
If the parents have split and the father stops supporting the child, the mother may seek a formal court order of child support forcing the legal father to continue providing for the child, even if he claims that the child is not his.
In this situation, the only way to terminate the child support order and get out of these payments is to reverse the establishment of paternity. In other words, the father needs to disestablish his paternity. But how does this process work in Florida?
What is ‘Legal Paternity’ in Florida?
From a legal standpoint, legal paternity refers to a man who has the rights and responsibilities of a parent, regardless of whether he is the biological father or not. Through legal paternity, the father is responsible for the child’s upbringing, has a parental relationship with the child, and has an obligation to support the child.
In Florida, there are four ways to determine legal fatherhood:
- Marriage (the mother and father are married at the time of the birth)
- Consent (the mother and father agree on legal paternity)
- Court order that determines legal paternity
- Paperwork (the father voluntarily signs the child’s birth certificate or affidavit of paternity)
How to Disestablish Paternity in Florida?
A father needs to demonstrate proof that he is not the father of the child in order to disestablish paternity in Florida. To initiate the process of disestablishing paternity, the father will need to file a petition and terminate the existing child support order.
The father must also inform the mother of the child of his intention to disestablish paternity by serving her a copy of the petition. If there is a child support order in place, the father should also send a copy to the Department of Revenue.
When disestablishing paternity in Florida, your initial filing must include:
- An affidavit explaining your reasoning behind the decision to disestablish paternity (e.g., the father may detail a newly discovered evidence that proves he is not the biological father)
- The results of a genetic test showing that he is not the biological father
- A sworn statement regarding child support payments
Note: To successfully disestablish paternity in Florida, your child support payments must be current. Otherwise, you are expected to provide an explanation for past due payments.
What Happens After You Submit Your Petition to Disestablish Paternity?
After you have submitted all the appropriate information in your petition and necessary testing has been completed, the court will review your paternity disestablishment case. Afterward, the court will make a decision based on what’s in the child’s best interests.
Although the court’s decision to disestablish your paternity will terminate your child support obligations moving forward, your previous support payments will not be refunded or returned. Your parental rights will be terminated if your petition is approved.
Contact our Orlando paternity attorneys to discuss your options when disestablishing fatherhood. Speak to our detail-oriented lawyers from Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee to pursue your case. Call at 407-521-7171 today.