When a male believes he is not the father of a child and has already been established or presumed to be the father, he may be able to file a Disestablishment of Paternity action.
Often these actions are filed when a person wishes to terminate a child support obligation entered by the court or through the administrative child support process.
To disestablish parenting, one must file a Petition to Disestablish Child Support.
The case is filed in the county where the child support case was filed initially.
If child support was established by Department of Revenue administratively, then the action is filed in the county where the mother or child’s guardian resides and served upon that person and the Department of Revenue.
In order to disestablish paternity, the party must have newly discovered evidence regard the paternity of the child since the order was entered for the child support obligation.
In addition, if the petitioner has access to the child, a DNA test needs to be taken within 90 days prior to filing the action showing that the petitioner is not the father.
Another important requirement is for the petitioner to be current on all child support obligations for the child or to have substantially complied with the child support obligation.
Any delinquency in child support requires just cause.
If the court grants the disestablishment, the court can only relief the petitioner of future child support obligations. This is why it is extremely important to request the court either suspend support during the pendency of the action (which can only be done for good cause) or order that child support be held in the registry until a final determination is made on the case.
When this is done, the petitioner, upon prevailing, can recover not only future child support, but also all child support that became due and owing from the date the motion to suspend/hold in registry is granted to the date of the final hearing.
Depending on the monthly child support obligation, this can be a significant sum to recover.
If the Court grants the disestablishment, 30 days after the entry of the Final Judgment/Order, a new birth certificate is requested by the clerk of court.
It is for this reason that the Court should also consider whether a name change is in the best interest of the minor child if the disestablishment is granted, especially when the child has the petitioner’s last name.
This is something that is often overlooked and should be requested in the petition.
Disestablishment of Paternity actions are governed by Fla.Stat. §742.18.