Florida’s tradition of family law acknowledges that there is more than one way to be a father. The child’s biological father is not necessarily the child’s legal father. In fact, when establishing paternity, the courts do not always order DNA paternity tests. Sometimes a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is all you need. Things get more complicated when it comes to matters of child support, however. Is the biological father always the one who should pay child support for the child? The answer, according to Florida case law, is that it depends, and not always in the ways you would expect. The decision in the Parker v. Parker case will surprise many people, but the reasons behind the decision reveal a lot about what it means to be a father in Florida.
The Facts of the Parker v. Parker Case
Parker v. Parker made news as the case in which a Florida court ordered a man to continue to pay child support for his ex-wife’s son even after a DNA test proved that he was not the child’s biological father. When Richard Parker and his wife Margaret initiated their divorce, their son was more than a year old. The court ordered Richard to pay $1,200 per month in child support. Richard fell behind on the child support payments, and the court tried to enforce payment of them. Richard responded by expressing doubt that he was the child’s biological father, as Margaret had been unfaithful to him during the marriage. Even after the family underwent DNA testing, and the results showed the Richard was not the biological father, the court required him to continue paying child support. Why would a court order a man to pay child support for a child of whom he was not the biological father and whom he did not adopt? Continue reading