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A new Florida state law gives men the opportunity to challenge paternity judgments that result in child support. In cases where men are victims of “paternity fraud,” the law clears them of any financial obligation to the child.
Before this legislation was enacted, men had little recourse to challenging a paternity ruling. Married men could only contest such a ruling within a year of divorce, even if the child was later discovered to be someone else’s.
Similarly, unwed men who signed consent affidavits at the time of the child’s birth but later found out they were not the child’s biological father were still obligated to make support payments.
Family law attorney Ronald Henry, who has written about paternity fraud, said there could be thousands of men who are currently supporting children who aren’t theirs. Florida Department of Revenue statistics show that 30 percent of 15,495 men who contested paternity claims last year were exonerated by DNA tests.
Good News or Bad?
Rep. Curtis Richardson, who sponsored the bill, said, “This bill brings fairness back to the process. It was obviously unfair to these men, and in some instances their families.”
However, not everyone regards this new legislation as a victory. Opponents of the bill say that the law only hurts the child, since it contains no provisions requiring the court to bear in mind the child’s best interests.
“If, after seven years of raising this child, of being the dad, of acting like the dad, of loving the child – what does it do to the child to let somebody pop up and say, ‘Whoops, I don’t want to be your dad anymore,” said child advocate Andrea Moore.
The new legislation does not allow men who have been the victims of paternity fraud to recover past child support payments or to take legal action against women who intentionally misled or deceived them.
Having child support issues? Please contact us today to locate a skilled and experienced family law attorney near you.