Florida Supreme Court Considers Parental Claims by Three Parents
In a first-of-its-kind case in the state of Florida, the state’s Supreme Court is considering the claims of two men who each assert their custodial rights as the father of a five-year-old girl, where one of the men is married to the child’s biological mother. Learn more about the case below, and speak with a seasoned Clearwater family law attorney with any additional questions.
Legal father and biological father battle for parental rights
The case now before the Florida Supreme Court centers on a married couple, their five-year-old daughter, and the girl’s biological father. When the girl was born, her mother was married not to the girl’s biological father, but to a different man. Under the laws of Florida, the man who is married to a woman at the time she gives birth is considered that child’s legal father. In this case, the child’s biological father wishes to have shared legal custody of his daughter, as well as parenting time. The biological father is not seeking to have the parenting rights of her mother’s husband terminated, however; he simply wants to share the parenting of his child with the child’s mother and her husband.
Potential first instance of a Florida child having three legal parents
The trial and appellate courts that have heard this case so far have come to differing conclusions on what should happen. The trial court ruled in favor of granting the biological father certain parental rights, but the appellate court ruled in favor of the mother’s husband being the child’s only legal father. If the Florida Supreme Court rules in favor of the biological father, it would be the first time that a child in Florida has been found to have three legal parents. The biological father’s attorney asserted that, in a world where so many children’s biological parents are no longer together, it makes little sense to restrict families to having only two parents of a child. The attorney noted, “We have 50 percent of children, I believe, under the age of 13 who are living in blended families in the state of Florida. So, this is a very relevant issue.”
While allowing the biological father parental rights in this case would be a first for Florida, it would not be a first nationwide. Among other cases, a New Jersey court awarded custodial rights to both a married male couple (one of whom was the child’s biological father) and the child’s biological mother when the mother threatened to leave the state with the child.
If you’re facing a complex child custody dispute in Florida and need dedicated legal help to protect your rights, contact the caring and knowledgeable Clearwater custody, parenting and time-sharing attorneys at The Law Firm for Family Law at 727-531-8737.