Motherhood are one of the most important endeavors that we as human beings will ever undertake. But what if there is doubts as to whether a child is really yours??? Obviously a mother can have no doubts as to her maternity but in certain cases a father’s paternity may be genuinely in question. In such cases, imagine being financially responsible for a child that is not yours for at minimum eighteen (18) years. My law office in conjunction with former partner Brian Kirlew, Esq. embarked in such a case.
Imagine the following, a man travels abroad and enters in amorous affair with a local woman in her Country. In this case, Colombia. The love affair is passionate and consumes both the participants. But afterwards the man leaves to go home. He then hears via rumors that his love affair has resulted in a love child. He is consumed by the idea and in the attempt to be an honorable man he seeks to to establish his rightful place as the father of the child. He contacts the mother and tells her that he is aware of the birth of their beautiful baby boy. He travels to Colombia excited to establish his fatherhood especially since he has never had a son of his own. She tells him the boy is his son and he is excited for the prospect of having a baby boy. But then reality challenges the emotions and the dreams of the individual when he realizes that she has been living with another man. She assures him that the child could not be the son of her live-in boyfriend because the man is impotent. Despite this fact the live-in boyfriend had already claimed the fatherhood for this child by signing his name on a birth certificate. The live-in boyfriend and the mother convince our client that he is the father. As such, the parties agree to execute another birth certificate this time placing our client has the father. On this basis, our client ask for the mother’s hand in marriage. She agrees. Our client then files immigration documents based on this fallacy to bring the mother and the child to the United States and live with him in his home. Upon arrival the mother within a few short months continues her love affair with the man in Colombia. Dismayed our client says the relationship cannot last and he files for divorce after six short months. The same six months, which is the only time period that our client has cohabited as with the child as his father.
The mother files a counterclaim claiming child support for the son and in addition alimony pursuant to the contractual obligation created by immigration documents previously filed. Is it just??? Many would argue not and others would argue that it since our client held himself out to be the father he should be responsible for the child’s upbringing. But again we question, is it just, to be financially responsible for a child that is not yours considering the “average cost of raising a child born in 2013 up until age 18 for a middle-income family in the U.S. is approximately $245,340.” The DNA test proved definitively that the child was not the biological son of our client. Despite this the mother’s attorneys necessarily relied on Fla. Stat. 742.10, the “voluntary acknowledgement” statute, which in sum indicates that if our client held himself out to be the father then he should be responsible. To controvert this argument we argued that since the birth certificates were executed in Colombia, effectively, no voluntary acknowledgement had taken place under Florida law. Further, since the voluntary acknowledgment took place in Colombia, Colombian law should apply. We presented the expert testimony of a family law specialist in Colombia who testified, that, pursuant to Colombian law the second birth certificate was void as a matter of law. Why??? In Colombia, to correct substantive issues, such as the name of the father on a birth certificate, court action is required. The Judge in Miami-Dade County agreed with our argument and as such the acknowledgment was null and void. Further, although the Court agreed with opposing counsel’s argument for alimony based on a contractual basis, he found that the relationship was founded upon fraud in the inducement. I.E. the parties would have not married but for the birth of this child. In sum, we have saved our client approximately $245,340.00 for child support and whatever amount could have been awarded for alimony. The moral of the story is that if you find yourself challenged in such a situation there may still be a way out and having attorney(s) that will fight and dedicate themselves to finding a solution is key.