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Custody Case in Florida Scores Huge Win for Biological Fathers

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It’s a question many divorce lawyers are often asked by their clients: Can a biological father be prevented from seeing his child? In the state of Florida, the answer to this question was sometimes yes. However, one biological father’s case made it to the Florida’s Supreme Court.

Connor Perkins just moved into this beautiful new house and set up a room for his 5-year-old daughter. Talking about his home, Connor said, “This room, we thought would be good for her. We’ll probably put a table over here.”

However, Mr. Perkin’s little girl didn’t get to move into her new room.

“I raised my child for three years, and then all the sudden, I’m nothing, right? I have no rights. I am not considered a father, I get stripped of all my rights,” said Connor.

Connor conceived his daughter with a married woman. DNA testing proved he was in fact the girl’s biological father.

When Mr. Perkin’s daughter turned 3 years old, her mother and her husband went to court to obtain full custody and challenge the biological father’s rights.

Under an old Florida law, the daughter’s mother could do this. This old law overrides biology when it comes to a father’s parental rights.

During the 80s and 90s, a whole progeny of cases developed featuring legal fathers (husbands) who were not biological fathers. The big case that started it all in Florida is called “privette,” which forced the biological father to prove that it is in the child's best interest to illegitimize the child (basically saying the child was not born during wedlock) and having to have a Guardian ad Litem recommend the biological father have rights to his child.

Recalling the custody dispute, Connor said, “I never could have imagined that I would be in this situation today, where I’d be fighting for rights to my own daughter.”

Unfortunately, Connor’s fight is one that biological fathers have been losing in court for years. However, Mr. Perkins just scored a huge victory in the Florida Supreme Court that can have major implications for these types of cases.

In his case, Connor argued that the Florida law is outdated because today it is much more common for children to be born to parents who aren’t married. The Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Perkin’s arguments and ruled that he was entitled to be a part of his daughter’s life.

According to his attorney, “Not only did he get to establish rights for himself with his child, he has now paved the way for every other biological father in the State of Florida who is not in a marital relationship. So it’s really kind of a breakthrough.”

Despite this major ruling, biological fathers seeking custody of their children will still have to go through family courts to establish that they can provide an environment that is in the best interest of their child. The difference now is that the law will be on their side during this process.

Speaking about his victory, Connor said, “You know, I’m hoping that this kind of sets a new path for fathers out there that actually want to do the right thing and to be a part of their children’s life.”

Although he won this part of the battle, Mr. Perkins is still involved in a dispute with ex over the amount of time he can spend with their child. For now, he is just eager for the day his little girl can sleep in the room he set up for her.

Speak to a Family Law Attorney Today

Are you involved in a custody dispute with your ex? Do you need help defending your rights? Our team of attorneys in Jacksonville are here to fight for you. We take on all family law disputes, and our legal professionals will guide you through every aspect of your case. Let us put our skills and experience to work for you.

Call 904.770.3141 to request your free initial case consultation.