L.G. v. Department of Children and Families, 227 So.3d 653 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017)
In this case, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed an order denying a father’s (L.G.) request to renounce his paternity of a child. While the father and the mother were never married, L.G.’s name was listed as the father on the birth certificate. After a DNA test revealed that L.G. was not the biological father, he asked the trial court to remove him as the father to alleviate any financial obligations to support the child. The trial court denied the request on the basis that another father would first have to assume the paternity of the child and the related support obligations. However, in 2006, the Florida legislature enacted Section 742.18, Florida Statutes that provided a mechanism for paternity to be terminated.
Section 742.18, permits a father to renounce his paternity of a child or terminate a child support obligation, when he is found to not be the biological father. The petitioning father must present newly discovered evidence from the time he had assumed the child support obligations or from the initial paternity determination. A scientific test, such as a DNA test, must be administered within 90 days of the request to terminate or renounce the paternity obligation. Additionally, the petitioning father must be current on all child support payments and cannot have adopted the child.
Because the Statute does not require someone else to first stand in place of the petitioning father and assume the financial obligations for the child, the First District ruled that the trial court erred in its decision to deny L.G.’s petition without giving consideration to the above discussed statutory factors.
This case provides the method that a father can challenge his paternity or terminate his child support obligation without the requirement that another “father” step in and assume the financial responsibility.