There's no shortage of paternity court shows on T.V. And while television might be entertaining, paternity court shows (typically meant for entertainment) sometimes bring up interesting issues, particularly regarding a father’s paternal rights.
Wondering how so? Continue reading to learn more about how this landmark decision has impacted a biological father’s paternal rights in Florida.
Suppose that a married woman has an affair with a man, and she becomes pregnant with him. She remains married to her husband, but at the time of the child’s birth this man (who is not her husband) is present for the child's birth, helps enroll the child in school, and routinely pays the married woman financial support for their child together. Before the Simmonds v. Perkins case was decided by Florida's Supreme Court, the child would be considered the legitimate child of the woman's husband - despite the biological father having done all of the above. Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So.3d 397 (Fla. 2018).
Until Simmonds v. Perkins, the biological father could not file for paternity if he fathered a child with a married woman. In the past, American courts have held that a child born in a marriage is presumed to be the husband's child. This presumption of legitimacy was intended to protect the child's best interest. Now, at least in Florida, this presumption is rebuttable so that the biological father is allowed to assert yourself as the child's lawful, biological father. Id.
Now, in the State of Florida, the biological father can file a Petition for Paternity in the county where the child resides. Id. This petition is a mandatory step for the biological father to establish his parental rights. Once a D.N.A. test is completed and the biological father’s status is confirmed, he is entitled to custody, regular visitation, a notice of when and if the mother plans to travel out the country with the child or get the child a passport, having a say-so in which school the child attends, and more.
Circumstances depending, the biological father may be able to sue for child support. Additionally, the biological father can inherit from the child. Lastly, the biological father may consider registering with the Putative Father Registry so that he is informed in the matter should the child's mother decides to give up the child up for adoption.
Once a court establishes the biological father’s paternity, the mother—married or divorcing—can sue for child support. If her husband stays with her, the biological father might have concerns about the amount a court orders him to pay when the child benefits from a two-parent household. Due to the novelty of this case, it's uncertain how an intact marriage will affect the child support amount.
As for the husband, if he continues to stay with his wife and intends to preserve his marriage, he might countersue the biological father, arguing that, although the presumption of legitimacy is now rebuttable, the biological father is not equipped to be in the child's life. Rather, he can argue that's only he's equipped to be a father to the child. If he does, the biological father may still lose any potential rights or custody to the child if a court finds that there's not a clear and compelling reason to overcome the presumption of legitimacy.
You might ask, "Does this ruling apply to same-sex marriages?"
The short answer is, "Yes."
If a male has impregnated a woman who is in a same-sex marriage, the male might be able to assert his parental rights depending on the circumstances of how the conception came about. If established, the biological father can sue for a form of custody and child support. The biological father can even intervene in the married couple's decision on how the child is raised and educated, as well.
Establishing your parental right is essential. It doesn't matter whether you were unaware of her situation or knowingly participated. You have a right to be active in your child's life. This is where we come in. The Joseph Firm, P.A. is a well-respected and experienced family law firm that helps clients with paternity, adoption, divorce, child custody, child support, and more.
For more information, reach out to The Joseph Firm, P.A. by calling (305) 501-0992. Our law firm fully understands the challenges associated with establishing a father's paternal rights, and we're always ready to provide the highest-quality legal representation. We handle every case with a unique approach, as we know every family matter is different and unique. You can expect care and compassion while we fight aggressively for your rights and a favorable outcome. Our firm offers evaluations. Speak to a Family attorney at The Joseph Firm, P.A. today by calling (305) 501-0992.