In a recent paternity case captioned L.G. v. Department of Children and Families, the legal father of a child appealed an order denying his Petition to Disestablish Paternity of a child. The legal father was not married to the child’s mother. However, the legal father acknowledged his paternity on the child’s birth certificate. The legal father filed a Petition to Disestablish Paternity based on newly discovered evidence. The newly discovered evidence was that a recent DNA test showed that he was not the actual father of the child. The trial judge denied the father’s Petition based upon the fact that another father was unwilling to step in and serve as the father of this child.
In a case captioned Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services v. Privette, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that before a blood test can be required to prove paternity in cases where a child is born legitimate, the trial court must find that the dependent child’s best interests will be served by the blood test. Privette only applies in those cases where a legal father faces the threat of losing parental rights and a child faces the threat of being declared to be illegitimate. After Privette was decided; in 2006, the Florida Legislature passed the Paternity Disestablishment Statute. By passing the Paternity Disestablishment Statute, the Legislature provided that even if paternity has been established, there is still a mechanism for a man to use to disestablish paternity and avoid child support. The lower court in this case was reversed because it ruled that another father must be willing to establish paternity in order for a petition for disestablishment of paternity to be granted. The new Paternity Disestablishment statute contains no such requirement.
The best interest of the child inquiry only applies in cases where the legal father faces the threat of losing parental rights and the child faces the threat of being declared to be illegitimate. Therefore the trial court’s order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.
To speak to an attorney for unmarried fathers and unmarried mothers in West Palm Beach, Florida; contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.