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How Does a Married Man Prove He is Not the Father of a Child?


If a married woman gives birth in Florida, her husband is assumed to be the father of the child. The husband at the time of the birth is automatically granted the parental rights and parental responsibilities. This is true even if the couple gets divorced soon after the birth; the parental rights and responsibilities remain in place.

Of course, we all know that the real world is complicated, and a married man may not always be the biological father of his wife’s child. As such, there are cases in which married men (or formerly married men) feel that they need to disestablish paternity for a child. In this post, our experienced Orlando paternity attorney provides a basic overview of what a man needs to do to disestablish paternity in Florida.

Understanding Florida Law: Disestablishing Paternity

The Florida State Statute 

Florida has very clear guidelines for how a married man (or formerly married man) should go about disestablishing paternity for a child. Specifically, this action must be done in accordance with the procedure established by Florida Statute 742.18.

A Man Must Take Action Within Two Years

Under Florida Statute 742.18, a man must initiate a petition to disestablish paternity:

  • Within the first two years after a child’s birth; or
  • Within two years after the date that he found out that there was a reasonable chance he was not the father of the child.

If a man fails to take action in time, he may lose out on his ability to disestablish paternity.

The Standard of Proof Under Florida Law 

As was mentioned, it is legally assumed that a husband is the father of his wife’s children. To rebut this assumption, a man must present compelling evidence to a Florida family law court. The following two basic things must always be submitted into evidence:

  • A signed affidavit attesting to the fact that the man found evidence that made him question the true paternity of the child; and
  • A genetic test that was taken within the last three months and that has come back with results that prove that the man’s suspicions were correct.

The Consequences of Disestablishing Paternity 

If a man is successful in disestablishing paternity in Florida, he needs to be ready to deal with the consequences. While parental responsibilities will be extinguished, parental rights will also be terminated. This means that the man will no longer be obligated to pay child support, and that he will no longer have any right to visit or have a relationship with the child.

Contact Our Orlando Family Law Attorney Today 

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our Central Florida family law lawyer has extensive experience handling disestablishment of paternity actions. To set up a full confidential review of your situation, please call our law firm now at 407-521-7171. From our office in Orlando, we represent clients throughout Orange County, FL, including in Apopka, Ocoee, and Windermere.



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