Terminating Child Support
Establishing child support is a difficult process that significantly affects all of the parties involved, so once child support has been granted it is relatively difficult to have those payments terminated. An exception exists, however, if the father can prove to the court that he is not the biological parent of the child. If you have questions regarding paternity or believe that you are not the biological father of a child to whom you are paying support, you should contact a family law attorney immediately.
The Termination Process
The first step in disestablishing paternity is to file a petition in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the child support obligation. A copy of the petition must also be served on the mother of the child. The petition must include:
- An affidavit stating that there is recently discovered evidence relating to paternity that the petitioner was not aware of during the initial paternity determination.
- A scientific test showing that the petitioner is not the biological father of the child.
Furthermore, to be eligible for termination, the petitioner must be current on all previous support payments.
When Will the Court Grant a Petition?
A petition to disestablish paternity and terminate child support payments will be granted if:
- New evidence is presented to the court
- The scientific test was properly conducted
- The petitioner is current on all child support payments
- The child was not adopted by the petitioner
- The child was not conceived by artificial insemination while the petitioner and the mother were married
- The petitioner did not prevent the biological father from asserting his rights
- The child is younger than eighteen when the petition is filed
When Will a Petition Be Rejected?
A court will not set aside an order for child support if the putative father:
- Married the child’s mother while he was known as the father
- Acknowledged paternity in a sworn statement
- Consented to being named as the father on the child’s birth certificate
- Voluntarily promised in writing to support the child in question
- Received a written notice to submit to scientific testing to determine paternity and refused
- Signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity
Florida law requires that payment of child support by the father will not be suspended unless good cause is shown. This means that generally, the putative father must continue child support payments until the case is resolved.
If the Petition is Granted
Once a petition to disestablish paternity is granted by a court, then within thirty days the clerk of the court will send a certified copy of the court order to the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health. The department will then create and file a new birth certificate that eliminates the petitioner’s name as father. Relief will be limited to future child support payments and a termination of parental rights. A granting of the petition does not create a cause of action for the petitioner to recover any prior child support payments.
A court’s determination of paternity can have lifelong consequences for both parents and children. If you have a paternity issue, please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a consultation.