In Interest of Y.R-P., — So.3d —- (2017)
In a pending dependency proceeding with competing paternity claims, O.R., the
biological father, filed a motion to disestablish paternity for J.R.-P., the purported father
who was named as father on birth certificate. The trial court conducted an evidentiary
hearing on O.R.’s motion where both DCF and the GAL supported O.R., contending that
it was in the child’s best interest to establish O.R.’s paternity and to disestablish J.R-P.’s
paternity. The trial court agreed and disestablished J.R-P.’s paternity, determined that
he was not a parent or party to the dependency proceeding, and dismissed him from
the dependency case.
J.R.-P. appealed and challenged O.R.’s standing. Relying upon section 742.18, of the
Florida Statutes, J.R.-P. argued that a biological father lacks standing to disestablish
another’s paternity and that he was the only person who could seek to disestablish his
paternity. The Second DCA held that although section 742.18 provides a mechanism
by which J.R-P. could have sought to disestablish his own paternity if he had been so
inclined, it does not preclude a child’s biological father from proceeding as a challenger.
Specifically, section 742.10(4) opened an avenue for O.R. to challenge paternity.
Affirming the trial court’s order, the DCA concluded that in the context of a chapter 39
proceeding, the child’s best interest is the appropriate standard in deciding whether a
biological father has standing to challenge paternity of a child born out of wedlock as
between two males who were not married to the child’s mother.
Practice Tip: Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.226(a) allows the trial court to
conduct proceedings under chapter 742 either as part of the chapter 39, proceeding or
in a separate action under chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes.