DNA Surprise: You’re Not The Father
When you found out that your girlfriend was pregnant, you stood up to marry her and lovingly jumped into the raising of the child. You are more than attached to the child—you have been acting as father, after all. In fact, you’ve been 100 percent committed to this family unit from the get go. But there have been some indications that perhaps your then-girlfriend was less than faithful around the time that she became pregnant. You had to know: was the baby yours? A DNA test delivered the shocking news: the baby is not yours after all. You file for divorce, but now the question of child support is on your mind.
The Law vs. Emotions
You married your spouse before the birth, so you were the father and legal guardian of this child according to Florida law. Your name is on the birth certificate, and you’ve accepted the role of father with aplomb. Now that you’ve discovered the truth about the child’s biology, you’ve divorced your spouse, but what are your legal obligations to the child? What are the implications of that negative DNA test? If you choose to pursue non-paternity, it can get you out of support obligations, assuming you never adopted the child, you’re not behind on support payments, and you’ve never interfered with the biological father’s relationship with the child. At the same time, it can take away any claims you may wish to make for child visitation and/or custody. It’s a tricky issue, and one that requires much thought.
The procedure to vacate the order for paternity is pretty straightforward. You simply need to file an Affidavit of Non-Paternity with the circuit court that has jurisdiction and present all of your evidence demonstrating that you are not the biological father, including a conclusive DNA test that was taken within 90 days of the petition for non-paternity. The mother of the child has to be served, as does the Department of Revenue. When everything goes according to plan, the child’s birth certificate is modified to exclude your name. At that point, you have no legal connection to the child.
Can You be Reimbursed for Previous Expenses?
Let’s say you’ve forked thousands of dollars to support this woman and her child, including paying for a nursery, daycare, and general care. Now that you’ve proven that you are not the biological father, are you entitled to be paid back for any of those expenditures? The short answer is no: whatever you’ve paid out is spent. The best you can do now is move forward.
Making the Right Choice
Each person in this type of situation will feel differently and have dissimilar aims for the future. At WiseLieberman our knowledgeable Boca Raton family law attorneys will listen, provide their best legal advice, and advance legal protocols based on what they hear from you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.