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In wedlock, out of wedlock: the challenges of establishing paternity of a married woman’s child, P.1

Paternity rights can present significant challenges, both legal and emotional, for fathers. Paternity confusions and difficulties can, of course, come up in a variety of circumstances, but often arise when relationships get messy and multiple partners are involved. This is especially the case when a woman becomes pregnant by a man other than her legal husband.

In such situations, the legal presumption is that the child belongs to the married woman’s husband, particularly if the husband’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate and the woman holds him out to be the father, even though the circumstances might tell a different story. Unfortunately, it may not be possible for the biological father of the child in such cases to initiate an action to establish paternity. That is the situation in which one Florida man currently finds himself. 

The man is reportedly working with his attorney to potentially challenge Florida paternity law, which makes it very difficult if not impossible for men to establish their paternity of a child conceived by a married woman and to obtain parental rights. This man’s situation is not the only possible scenario where paternity difficulties may arise. Another possible scenario is when a child conceived by one man is born to a woman out of wedlock and the woman later marries another man who signs the birth certificate. In such situations, Florida law most likely deems that the second man is the legal father, especially if the mother holds him out to be the father.

The law is based on what many believe to be an outdated public policy of protecting the legitimacy of children. Some advocates of change argue, though, that paternity should be determined on a case-by-case basis rather than imposing blanket presumptions on irregular cases.  

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this issue, particularly the challenges of establishing paternity under current Florida law in situations like the one mentioned above and the importance of working with experienced legal counsel in doing so. 

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