Disestablishment of Paternity

Florida Statute 742.18

In Florida, disestablishment of paternity is possible if certain circumstances exist. Florida Statute 742.18 is the law that governs disestablishment of paternity in Florida. Among other things, newly found evidence must be discovered as the basis for initiating a Petition for Disestablishment of Paternity.


742.18 Disestablishment of paternity or termination of child support obligation.—(1) This section establishes circumstances under which a male may disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when the male is not the biological father of the child.

Specific Circumstances Must Exist

In addition to the discovery of newly found evidence, as the basis for a Petition for Disestablishment of Paternity, other specific circumstances must exist.

For example, a few of the circumstances that must exist are: the petitioner must not have adopted the child; the petitioner must be current on child support payments; and the petitioner must not have acknowledged his paternity in a sworn statement since discovering evidence that he is not the father.

Scientific Testing

Another requirement is that there is scientific testing that excludes the alleged father as the biological father. according to F.S. 742.12(2) the court may: "require the child, mother, and alleged fathers to submit to scientific tests that are generally acceptable within the scientific community to show a probability of paternity."

The statute does not specify that a DNA test is required. But, in general, that is what the statute must mean. It also seems reasonable that a scientific test showing that the alleged father is sterile would satisfy the court that he could not be the father.

The Florida courts now seem to be accepting as legal DNA tests "over the counter" DNA test kits which have been verified by an authorized party. This may be a substantial savings if you need to have a DNA test done for court. Nowadays the DNA test is a mouth swab test, and does not need to involve a blood sample. Check with your clerk of court to find out exactly what is meant by a "legal" DNA test in your jurisdiction.

Legal Father

A "rebuttable presumption" is created that a child is, in fact, the biological child, of the husband, married to the child's mother. The husband is the legal father, unless he proves otherwise and disestablishes his paternity.

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