Disestablishment of Paternity: What is it?

There have been many instances where a couple is in love, marries, and later a child is born. The father, not knowing the circumstances, may have no doubts that he is the real and true biological father of the child. As a result of the love to the child’s mother, the child, and the believe that he is the true “father;” the “father” signs the birth certificate, provides for the child’s need, and develops a father-child relationship. Years later, the couple separates and divorces. The “father” is ordered to pay child support and has time-sharing. The relationship between mother and “father” continues to deteriorate. Sometime after, after child support is ordered, the mother informs the “father” that he is not the true father of the child. The “father” cannot simply cease child support payments, as this would cause him to violate a court order. The “father” may and will feel that he will be stuck paying child support for a child that is not his. 

Fortunately, Florida law allows and provides an avenue by which a “father” can contest the child support order that was entered and the legal conclusion that he is the legal father of the child.
Florida Statute 742.18 “establishes circumstances under which a male may disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when the male is not the biological father of the child.” This avenue is called disestablishment of paternity.

How to Win a Disestablishment of Paternity Case:

According to
Florida Statute 742.18, the court shall grant relief on a petition when:
1.    There is newly discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child.
2.    The scientific test was properly conducted on the father.
3.    The father ordered to pay child support is current on all child support payments, or he has substantially complied with his child support obligation for the applicable child.
4.    The father has not
adopted the child.
5.    The child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the father and the child’s mother were married.
6.    The father did not act to prevent the biological father of the child from asserting his paternal rights with respect to the child.
7.    The child was younger than 18 years of age when the petition was filed.

How to Lose a Disestablishment of Paternity Case:

On the other hand, according to
Florida Statute 742.18, a court will not set aside and will deny a disestablishment of paternity petition if the male engaged in the following conduct after learning that he is not the biological father of the child:
1.    The father married the mother of the child and represented to others that he was the father of the child and voluntarily assumed the parental obligation and duty to pay child support;
2.    Acknowledged his paternity of the child in a sworn statement;
3.    Consented to be named as the child’s biological father on the child’s birth certificate;
4.    Voluntarily promised in writing to support the child and was required to support the child based on that promise;
5.    Received written notice from any state agency or any court directing him to submit to scientific testing which he disregarded or ignored; or
6.    Signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

In conclusion, if a petition for disestablishment of paternity is successfully granted by a court, this will terminate the legal conclusion that the man is the legal father of the child and the obligation to pay child support. However, any child support payments made in previously, prior to the court’s order granting the petition to disestablishment of paternity, will not be refunded or returned to the father. In addition to terminating child support, disestablishment of paternity, will terminate any rights or responsibilities to the child (including time-sharing

If you are interested and need assistance with a family law or paternity issue, contact Lindsay Ruiz Bash, P.A. Contact the firm's office to arrange a free initial consultation. Attorney Bash is also available to meet after hours by appointment only. We proudly serve the whole Tampa Bay area: Hillsborough County, Pasco County, New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Dade City, Carrollwood, Temple Terrace, Zephyrhills, Brandon, Lutz, South Tampa, Plant City, Riverview, New Port Richey, and all the surrounding areas.

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