Challenging a Paternity Claim
When a child is born out of wedlock, many unique issues arise. Chief among them is the identity of the father, which is not always cut-and-dry. As a result of technological advances, the ability to ascertain paternity with a large degree of certainty is now available. However, as with most tests, even in today’s advanced society, they are not fallible, and can sometimes result in a false reading. In such cases, purported fathers can be forced to pay child support (one of the primary reasons for paternity tests) even if they are not, in fact, the child’s father. Engaging the services of an experienced family law attorney, and especially one having expertise in paternity issues, is essential to work towards correcting this wrong. While most errors in paternity tests are a result of the test not being able to be 100 percent conclusive, the example illustrated here shows how a positive test result can be attributed to a nefarious motive on the part of the testing authority. While an extreme example, it nevertheless illustrates the fallibility of paternity tests – whether inadvertent or purposeful error.
The Ability to Challenge
In situations where a father wishes to overturn a determination of paternity, known as disestablishing paternity, Florida law allows for him to submit a petition to do so. In order for a disestablishment petition to be considered, the following elements must be present:
- An affidavit indicating that the purported father has recently discovered evidence relating to the paternity of the child, and that this evidence has come to the father’s knowledge since the initial paternity determination or establishment of his child support obligation;
- The results of a scientific test, within the past 90 days, which indicates that the purported father cannot be the father of the child at issue, or an indication that the purported father was unable to perform a test because he did not have access to the child (in which case the petition serves as a request for testing the child); and
- Proof that the purported father is current on all child support payments, or proof that he has substantially complied with his child support obligation and that any delinquency arose from his inability.
Once the petition has been filed, the court will look to see whether the following additional factors have been met:
- The purported father has not adopted the child (doing so acts as an affirmation of paternity);
- The child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the purported father and the child’s mother were married;
- The purported father did not prevent the biological father from asserting his rights; and
- The child was under 18 years old when the petition for disestablishment of paternity was filed.
In some cases, certain facts may disqualify the purported father from disestablishing paternity. Typically, these facts indicate that the purported father in fact wants to act as the child’s father. These facts include the following:
- The purported father married the child’s mother and represented to others that he is the father of the child;
- The purported father provided a sworn statement asserting himself to be the biological father of the child;
- The purported father has allowed himself to be named as the biological father on the child’s birth certificate;
- The purported father has signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity; or
- The purported father has either ignored or disregarded a notice from a court or a State agency asking him to submit to a genetic test.
Consult a Florida Family Law Attorney
If you have reason to believe that a claim of paternity against you is inaccurate, and you are curious about how to challenge this claim, contact the Fort Lauderdale paternity attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. Due to the nature of this issue, and the involvement of penalties for failure to pay child support, time is truly of the essence, and as soon as you discover a discrepancy, contact these attorneys immediately. It may be possible to overcome a determination of paternity, and, if you are not the child’s father, our team can help you. Contact us for a free consultation.