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Florida Supreme Court Rules in Favor or Biological Parents, Over the Marital Presumption

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Florida Supreme Court Rules in Favor or Biological Parents, Over the Marital Presumption

Florida, like many states, has a legal presumption dating back to common law principals that a child born into a marriage is presumed to be the child of the married couple. The basis of this presumption was founded on it being in a child’s best interest if a child is born into an intact marriage. Prior to the Florida Supreme Court ruling, the unmarried biological father had no legal rights to his child if the child was born into a marriage.

The following Florida parentage case has now helped expand the marital presumption when a child is born into a marriage, but the biological parent is not a member of the married couple.

Treneka Simmonds (“Simmonds”), gave birth to a child in February 2013. The biological father was her boyfriend, Connor Perkins (“Perkins”). Simmonds was married to another man at the time of the child’s birth and the Broward County court found that Simmonds and her husband were the legal parents of the child, despite the fact that Perkins was the biological father and took many actions to act like a legal parent (paying child support, taking the child to doctor appointments, referred to as “daddy”).

On June 28, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court found in Simmonds v. Perkins (No. SC17-1963) that a biological father could seek to establish his paternity, even where the biological mother and her husband objected.

Based on this recent ruling, a biological parent may be able to rebut the marital presumption if a child is born into a marriage (not involving the biological parent), provided the biological parent has “manifested a substantial and continuing concern” for the child and establishes a “clear and compelling reason based primarily on the child’s best interest”.

To ensure parental rights in situations such as these in Florida, it is important to consult with an attorney well versed in the marital presumption and Florida laws regarding parentage.