Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Paternity
Disestablishing paternity in Florida requires careful and timely steps to be taken to ensure that a non-biological father is no longer legally responsible for a child. It is not enough to have a test confirming that a male is not biologically related to a child as we see in the case Fla. Dept. of Revenue v. Augustin, 3D16-622 (Fla. 3d DCA2018).
In 2015, Mr. Augustin filed a petition to disestablish paternity of a child born in 2006, alleging a DNA test from 2009 showed he was not the father of the child. The DNA test results were not attached to the petition and were never submitted into evidence in court. At a hearing on the petition, Mr. Augustin testified that he had known since 2009 that he was not the biological father of the child.
The trial court granted Mr. Augustin’s petition and the Department of Revenue appealed arguing the trial court did not follow the Florida Statutes as it relates to the requirements for disestablishing paternity. The Florida Statutes require that the DNA test relied on be no more than 90 days old, among other requirements. Additionally, the court must make the following findings:
(a) Newly discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child has come to the petitioner’s knowledge since the initial paternity determination or establishment of a child support obligation.
(b) The scientific test required was properly conducted.
(c) The male ordered to pay child support is current on all child support payments for the applicable child or that the male ordered to pay child support has substantially complied with his child support obligation for the applicable child and that any delinquency in his child support obligation for that child arose from his inability for just cause to pay the delinquent child support when the delinquent child support became due.
(d) The male ordered to pay child support has not adopted the child.
(e) The child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the male ordered to pay child support and the child’s mother were in wedlock.
(f) The male ordered to pay child support did not act to prevent the biological father of the child from asserting his paternal rights with respect to the child.
(g) The child was younger than 18 years of age when the petition was filed.
Fla. Stat. 742.18(2).
Because these findings were not made, the appellate court found it was error for the trial court to enter the order disestablishing Mr. Augustin’s paternity. These are just some of the requirements, and the statute lists other criteria for granting this relief. The case was returned to the trial court to make the proper findings.
If you need to disestablish paternity in Florida, contact a Miami paternity lawyer. A consultation can help you decide if you have the legal right to move forward.