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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Paternity / Disestablishing Paternity in Florida

Disestablishing Paternity in Florida


There is a huge difference between legal paternity and biological paternity. Biological paternity means that a person has physically fathered a child. On the other hand, legal paternity refers to the man with the responsibilities and rights of a parent to a child. For someone to be considered a legal father in Florida, paternity must be established. Paternity establishment can be achieved through marriage, signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form, or through a court order after a genetic test of the child and father. Since paternity can be established, it can also be disestablished. It can be unfortunate when parents seek to disestablish paternity, but Florida law allows parents to do so under certain circumstances.

What Does It Mean to Disestablish Paternity?

Disestablishing paternity involves overturning the legal relationship between a child and a father. It is the legal process by which a legal father is relieved of his legal duty to support the child. When paternity is disestablished, any responsibilities the man had by virtue of being the legal father of the child are terminated. Additionally, the man’s rights as a father are terminated.

Grounds That Warrant Paternity Disestablishment

Disestablishing paternity is a serious matter, so not everyone is allowed to disestablish paternity. There are specific grounds that warrant paternity disestablishment. These include new evidence that disproves the alleged father’s biological connection to the child, fraud, duress, misrepresentation, and mistake of fact. Because disestablishing paternity can be complex, it is crucial to consult a qualified family law attorney.

The Process of Disestablishing Paternity in Florida

One of the first steps of disestablishing paternity is determining that you have valid grounds for disestablishing paternity. After establishing you have valid grounds for disestablishing paternity, you should consult a family law attorney with experience handling paternity cases. A skilled attorney can provide guidance on whether you have valid grounds for paternity disestablishment.

The next step is gathering evidence. You need strong and convincing evidence to have a successful paternity disestablishment case. Evidence might include DNA test results or documentation showing duress, fraud, or mistake of fact.

After gathering evidence, you must file a petition with the court. According to Florida Statute 742.18, in your petition, you should include an affidavit detailing why you are seeking paternity disestablishment, genetic test results or a sworn statement that you couldn’t get a DNA sample from the child, and a sworn statement concerning child support payments. In order to disestablish paternity in Florida, your child support payments must be up-to-date. If they are not, the affidavit must contain an explanation of why payments are still due.

Next, you might need to attend court hearings. Court hearings allow the involved parties to present their evidence and arguments. The judge will then consider the presented evidence and arguments and issue a decision based on the child’s best interests. If the judge determines that there are valid grounds for paternity disestablishment and disestablishing paternity is in the child’s best interests, the paternity will be declared void.

Contact a Lakeland Paternity Attorney

If you are considering paternity disestablishment in Florida, contact an experienced Lakeland paternity attorney at Darla K. Snead, P.L., to discuss your case.

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