The establishment of paternity has significant legal ramifications. It allows a custodial mother to seek child support, a noncustodial father to seek visitation and child custody, and a child to develop a relationship with his or her father. While the law generally favors the establishment of paternity for these reasons, there are instances where the disestablishment of paternity may be justified. Doing so, of course, relieves a man of his obligation to pay child support and his right to seek further contact with the child in question.
Under Florida law, there are a number of steps that must be taken before a court will grant a petition for the disestablishment of paternity. To start, the petition must be filed. Then, the man must file an affidavit indicating that newly discovered evidence, obtained after paternity was established, has been uncovered demonstrating that he is not the child's biological father. The man must then submit the results of genetic testing that demonstrates that he is not the child's biological father, or an affidavit indicating that he did not have access to the child for testing purposes. Lastly, the man must submit a sworn affidavit indicating that he is current on all child support obligations for the child.
Even if all of these elements are met, though, a man's petition for the disestablishment of paternity may be denied for a variety of reasons. For example, if he acknowledged paternity in a sworn statement, then he cannot succeed in seeking disestablishment of paternity. Likewise, volunteering to pay child support via written document or consenting to be named as the child's biological father on the child's birth certificate will bar the granting of a petition to disestablish paternity.
These matters can be enormously complex, but the effects they can have on an individual's life can be significant. This is why it is often imperative to have the assistance of an attorney who is skilled in handling paternity issues before moving forward.