Schwam-Wilcox & Associates, Attorneys and Counselors at Law
While You're Going Through Your Worst, We Are At Our Best
407-982-2714 | 888-337-5886
Se Habla Espanol
Evening appointments available for Clients
from 9:00pm to 11:00 pm

Can a child have more than one father under Florida law?

Can more than one man be the father of a child? For many Floridians, the question may seem obvious -- of course not. But is Florida law so clear cut?

In a sense, yes. Florida courts have routinely stated that a child can only have one father. They have been equally firm in holding that the paternal rights that flow from being the father cannot be shared or transferred.

And yet a deeper look shows that Florida paternity law is not quite so clear. Compare Chapters 39, 61, and 409 of the Florida statutory code -- each of which discusses paternity in different ways that can lead to different results. Chapter 39 addresses adoptions. It ignores biological paternity and fails to acknowledge other common ways to determine paternity. As a result, Chapter 39 proceedings often identify several prospective fathers.

Chapter 61, meanwhile, can divest a biological father of paternity if the mother was married to another man at the time the child was conceived or born. So, for example, if a mother conceived a child with one man and eight months later, she gets married to a second man, Chapter 61 would treat the second man as the father rather than the first man. Thus, the second man could block the first man's efforts to be acknowledge as the father.

Chapter 409 allows the Department of Revenue to pursue paternity actions to secure child support from fathers. The Department of Revenue can do so through genetic testing or other means. Failure of father to object to these proceedings can cause him to lose key defenses. Because of those lost defenses, many instances arise in which the state recognizes more than one man as the father of a child.

Floridians who want help sorting through these inconsistent rules may benefit from speaking with an experienced family-law attorney.

Source: Florida Bar Journal, "Fatherhood in Florida," Hon. Sue Robbins, Dec. 2010

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information