As the Definition of "Parents" Change, When Will Florida Law Catch Up?

By February 7, 2013

By Alan J. Kluger
While there is substantial focus in Florida, and nationwide, on defining the “parents” in cases of surrogacy, egg and sperm donation and same sex adoptions, there is an old, antiquated Florida law that is often overlooked but bears scrutiny and revision: the presumption that a woman’s husband is the biological father of her child.
As the definition of “parent” has morphed through the years. It is amazing that this archaic presumption still exists to the detriment of a biological father, who can lose his parental rights if he is not the woman’s husband.

Scenario: If a woman has an extramarital affair and becomes pregnant with the other man’s child, the presumption is that the husband is the father.  The presumption may be rebutted, however, given that many of the fathers are unrepresented and do not fully understand their rights, it is not uncommon for the father to be estranged from his child and in extreme cases, parental rights have been terminated.
In modern society, paternity testing is inexpensive and readily available.  Accordingly, it is time to bring the laws in keeping with the realities of relationships today.  To remove the rebuttable presumption that a husband is the biological father, some may argue, will destabilize the family unit.  While such goals are lofty and romantic, they are not in keeping with the practical reality of modern society and the fluidity of relationships.  The bottom line is that biological parents are entitled to relationships with their biological children absent findings by a court that it is not in the child’s best interests to have such a relationship.  We need to bring our laws in keeping with that principle.

There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy,or two families.  Some children live with their uncle or aunt.  Some live with their grandparents,and some children live with foster parents.  Some live in separate homes and neighborhoods in different areas of the country.  They may not see each other for days, weeks, months or even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear, those are the ties that bind. And you’ll have a family in your heart for ever.  – Mrs. Doubtfire