Florida girl amidst court dispute between biological father and man married to mother

Published: May. 8, 2018 at 4:49 PM EDT
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

May 8, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- A five-year-old girl is in the middle of a legal battle between her biological father and the man who was married to her mother at the time of her birth.

Under Florida law, the husband of a mother of a child born into a marriage is the legal father. The girl's parents remain legally married and no divorce petition has been filed.

Now, the Florida Supreme Court must sort it out.

“You can have two legal moms, you can have two legal dads,” said the legal father’s attorney, Victor Waite. "You can have a mom and a dad. What you can’t do is have three parents. You’re only allowed to have two parents.”

The biological father's attorney, Nancy Hass, is asking the court to give him shared custody and parenting rights.

“We do that all the time in custody cases. We do it in dissolution of marriage cases,” said Hass.

“Maybe that has to be. Maybe that’s for another day, not this court,” said Justice Barbara Pariente.

Ultimately, the lawyers, and at least one judge, say it's going to be up to the legislature to modernize Florida’s law.

The legal father's attorney says even if he were to divorce, he wants to be a part of the child's life.

“I don’t believe any state has allowed for three parents yet,” said Waite. "It’s the difference between having a legal parent and a stepparent. Stepparents don’t have the right to make legal decisions for the child. A legal parent does.”

The biological father's attorney told us it's absurd to think there can’t be three legal parents.

“We have fifty percent of children, I believe, under the age of thirteen who are living in blended families in the state of Florida. So, this is a very relevant issue,” said Hass.

Hass says if the ruling goes against her client, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely.

Two lower courts have issued different rulings in the case; one giving the biological father some rights and a second court upholding the legal father's rights.