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 paternity unwed/unmarried parents cases, gifts from the paying party's family members and gifts from the paying party's boyfriends and girlfriend may be included in calculating the paying party's income. In a recently decided case captioned Wood v. Wood, the father started working for a company owned by his girlfriend. In his financial affidavit the father listed his monthly income. The trial court found that the father earned a salary from the father's employment, but also believed that another source was paying the father's expenses. The trial court imputed additional income to the father from his family and from his girlfriend. When the case was presented to the Florida Court of Appeal, the father argued that the trial court misunderstood his financial circumstances and argued that the trial court's ruling was erroneous. The Court of Appeal agreed with the father and found that the trial court's ruling was based on speculation. The Florida Court of Appeal and reversed the lower court's ruling.
In a paternity unwed/unmarried parents case, two men both sought to be declared the father of a child. In J.A.I. v. B.R., the Florida Court of Appeal stated if a person signs a notarized voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, this acknowledgment creates a presumption of paternity that is rebuttable. When 60 days have elapsed after the signing of the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the acknowledgment constitutes an establishment of paternity and may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress, etc. The burden of proof is then placed upon the challenging party.
In a recent paternity case captioned Perez v. Fay, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that a parent has a constitutionally protected right to a meaningful relationship with his child. Time-sharing privileges should not be denied to either parent as long as the parent conducts himself, while in the presence of the child, in a manner which will not adversely affect the child. Because of the constitutional right to a meaningful parent-child relationship, there must be substantial evidence in the record that demonstrates that any restrictions on time-sharing are in the best interests of the child before those restrictions will be upheld. In Perez v. Fay, there was no evidence that the parent had conducted themselves during their supervised time-sharing in any manner that would adversely affect the parties' child. However, the trial court reduced the parent's time-sharing with the child from two to three hours per week to only four hours per month. This drastic reduction in the parent's time-sharing was reversed by the Court of Appeal.
In a Florida paternity proceeding involving Father's rights, in order for the court to require a Father to pay life insurance to secure a child support obligation, the trial court must make certain written findings. Fla. Stat. 61.13(1)(c) states that: "To the extent necessary to protect an award of child support, the court may order the obligor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure the child support award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose." In Velaga v. Gudapati, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated that in determining whether to require a Father to purchase life insurance to secure the payment of child support, under Florida Statute § 61.13(1)(c), the trial court must make findings concerning the cost of the insurance. The trial court must also make findings concerning the Father's ability to pay for the insurance.
In a paternity case and in a marital case, a temporary domestic violence injunction may be extended during a continuance of a hearing, however, the statute does not provide for the issuance of a series of temporary injunctions. In Prior v. Prior, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated:
In a paternity case and in a child support matter, a contempt of court order must contain findings that: (i) a prior order was entered, (ii) the payor failed to pay part or all of the support ordered, (iii) the contemnor had the present ability to pay support, and (iv) that the alleged contemnor willfully failed to comply with the prior court order. In Napoli v. Napoli, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated:
In a paternity proceeding, a child born during an intact marriage is presumed to be the child of the man to whom the biological mother was married. In CG v. J.R. & J.R., the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "... [T]his is...a case wherein the biological mother- while married to her husband-became pregnant by another man and wherein both fathers claim parental rights to the child. The fact that C.G.'s DNA test results established that he was H.G.-R.'s biological father is "legally insignificant" for purposes of establishing parental rights. See Slowinski v. Sweeney, 117 So.3d 73, 78 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013).
Contested paternity proceedings may not be heard by hearing officers because they have no constitutional or statutory authorization to make recommendations regarding custody and visitation. In Department of Revenue o/b/o Moore v. Williams, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "The Department of Revenue appeals a Final Judgment of Support which deviated from the child support guidelines by more than five percent based on the findings and recommendations of a hearing officer...On behalf of the Mother, the Department filed a petition for support and other relief against the Father...