The Florida Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a Florida man’s legal battle to gain paternity rights toward his biological daughter. The man is the biological father of the young girl, but the child’s Mother was married to another man at the time of her birth. The Mother’s legal Husband wants to maintain his relationship with the child and is unwilling to give up his parental rights, even knowing he is not the biological father of the young girl.
This case highlights an often-unknown aspect of Florida law, one that may be out-of-step with the ever-changing composition of the modern family. Under Florida law, a child born during an intact marriage is the legal child of the Husband of the Mother. If it is later discovered that the biological father of the child is another man, that other man still is not entitled to any rights over the child unless the legal father (the legal Husband of the Mother) gives up his parental rights.
The biological Father’s attorney in this case argued that the notion that a child can have only two parents is outdated and should be changed. However, it would seem from questions at oral arguments, the Florida Supreme Court Justices were leaning toward upholding the law and leaving it to the Florida Legislature to modernize the paternity statute, if they were so inclined. Ultimately, according to statements from the biological Father, this issue may make its way to the United States Supreme Court.
Regardless of the outcome, this case highlights the need to seek the counsel of an experienced Family Law attorney when facing issues surrounding paternity. The outcome you think should happen may not always be supported by the laws of Florida. We here at Benjamin & Melmer, LLC stand ready to consult with you regarding any paternity issue you may have.