What would you do if it turned out that you were not the biological father of a child that you had loved and financially supported for years? Well, you may be able to disestablish paternity and terminate all child support obligations under Florida law — if you want to.
When a presumed legal father finds out that he is not the biological father of a child, he may want to disestablish the paternity of the child.
Paternity disestablishment is a legal process whereby the alleged father is declared not to be the biological father. This process relieves the man of all child support and legal obligations, but it also strips away all parental rights (including custody and time-sharing) — sometimes after the man has been in the child’s life for many years.
Often, the emotions between the purported father and the child are so great that whether or not the man is the biological father does not matter. In that situation, the man should think long and hard about filing a disestablishment petition because, if he is not the biological father, all time-sharing rights to the child will disappear.
A man seeking to disestablish paternity should immediately file a petition seeking paternity disestablishment once he finds out, or else he may forfeit the right to do so later. The petition must allege that newly discovered evidence relating to the child’s paternity has come to the alleged father’s knowledge. He should also try to get DNA testing done on the child within 90 days prior to filing the petition that establishes that he is not the biological father. If he does not have access to the child, his lawyer can petition the court to have the testing conducted. The petition should also allege that the man is current on all child support obligations — however, the obligation to pay child support remains in effect until a judge rules otherwise. Further, the man is not entitled to a refund of previously paid child support.
If you find out that you are not the biological father of a child you have been supporting, it’s important to have your lawyer file a petition to disestablish paternity if you want to because, otherwise, you will be obligated to pay child support through the child’s date of emancipation.