Unmarried father’s rights were discussed in a recently decided case captioned State of Florida Department of Revenue v. Augustin. The Florida statutes provide for a mechanism under which men may disestablish paternity and terminate their child support obligation. In order to do this a man must prove seven things. First, that since the initial establishment of the father’s paternity, he became aware of newly discovered evidence that proves that he is not the father of the child. Second, a paternity test was properly conducted which demonstrates that he is not the father of the child. Third, that the petitioner is current on his child support payments or that there is a justification for his failure to do so. Fourth, that the petitioner has not adopted the child. Fifth, that the child was not the produce of in vitro fertilization. Sixth, that the petitioner did not take any action to deprive the actual father from asserting his righ ts. Seventh, that the child was less than eighteen years of age when the petition was filed.
State of Florida Department of Revenue v. Augustin, involved a paternity appeal by the Florida Department of Revenue of a decision by the lower court. In 2013, the trial court ruled that the alleged father was the father of a child. The alleged father filed a petition to disestablish paternity in 2015. The father’s petition alleged that a 2009 DNA test constituted newly discovered evidence that proved that he was not the father of this child. The father alleged that there was a 99.1% probability that he was not the father of the child. The trial court agreed with the alleged father and disestablished his paternity. The trial court ruled that the father was aware that the child was not his since 2009, and that the mother and the actual father were currently living with the child.
The trial court granted the alleged father’s petition to disestablish paternity. The Department of Revenue appealed this decision based upon the fact that the trial court did not make the required findings under the Florida Statutes. Because the trial court did not make the seven required findings under Florida Statutes, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision.