Marriage — Not Biology — Determines Legal Father In Florida

(WSVN) - It’s a fight for parental rights — that could go all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court. A woman and her husband are locked in battle against the biological father of her child. 7’s Brian Entin explains in our special assignment report – “Father’s Fight.”

Christopher Farrell hand painted a “Lion King” themed nursery in his Palm Beach County home. But his son may never see this room.

Christopher Farrell, biological father: “I wanted to be his dad. I was ready for it.”

He was ready — but Florida law was not on his side.

The woman Christopher had an affair with — and got pregnant — went back to her husband, and although Christopher is clearly the biological father, she wanted him out of the picture.

Christopher Farrell: “He’s mine, I mean, we already did the DNA test — it was proven, he’s 100 percent. So why do I have no legal rights if I am the biological father?”

In the Sunshine State, the court’s view is, marriage overrides biology — when it comes to men.

So a woman and her husband can block the “biological” father from becoming the “legal” father.

That means the husband — not Christopher — is considered “dad” in the eyes of the law.

Rebekah Brown-Wiseman, Christopher’s attorney: “I find it to be an outdated law. But the reason behind it is that they don’t want their children to be stigmatized to be considered being born outside of an intact marriage.”

Christopher’s attorney argues, Florida needs to get with the times.

It’s now much more common for children to be born to unmarried parents than in decades past. They are fighting to change the law.

It is an uphill legal battle for Christopher. He already lost in family court. He’s now appealing, and the case could go all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court.

Rebekah Brown-Wiseman: “Ultimately, what he’s looking for is to be deemed the legal father of the child, to be able to raise his child — mom and her husband can raise the child with their timeshare.”

Christopher was only allowed to meet his one-and-a-half year old son once, for half an hour.

These are pictures from that day in 2015.

We are not showing the baby’s face.

Christopher Farrell: “That was the first thing I wanted to do was pick him up and hold him. I mean, it was amazing. I was sitting there, crying in the middle of the road, holding him.”

An emotional moment for this dad — but some child advocates say the law is protecting children.

Family law attorney Michael Alman stresses every situation is different.

Michael Alman, family law attorney: “You now have a biological father who is someone outside the family. You now have a different last name. And that is an issue for the child. It’s an issue for the court to consider what’s in the best interest of the child.”

Christopher believes it is in his child’s best interest to be part of his life.

He says before the mother cut off contact — he went to her prenatal doctor appointments — and even threw a baby shower.

Christopher Farrell: “I still, to this day – ask to see him. Still making contact, making the effort, showing that I’m still trying to see my son.”

So for now, he hopes, for a future.

Christopher Farrell: “Just love to take him to Disney.”

But if that doesn’t happen and his boy becomes a man without him, he wants to send a message.

Christopher Farrell: “Just let him know that I love him.”

A 7News request for an interview with the mother in this case was turned down.

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