PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Port St. Lucie man is fighting for paternity rights to his 3-year-old son after the breakup of a five-year relationship with the child’s mother, who was legally married when the boy was born.
According to a report by the Palm Beach Post, John Karpinski is challenging a well-established Florida law that denies paternal rights to a biological father when a child is born into an intact marriage and the mother and husband want to remain married.
Although Karpinski was in a relationship with his son's mother at the time of his birth, she had never filed for a divorce from her estranged husband, according to WPTV. Karpinski and the child's mother eventually separated. Later, she stopped allowing him to see his son and instead claimed her long-estranged husband was the son's legal father, citing the Florida paternity law that gives all paternal rights to the mother's husband.
The mother and her husband want to raise the child as their own. Karpinski wants to be reunited with his son. Since the mother cut off contact with Karpinski, he has not seen the child.
“The client got into a relationship with a married woman, they lived together, had a child, broke up, and she got back with the husband," attorney Shaun Plymale of Treasury Coast Legal, who has represented Karpinski since last fall, told the Florida Record. “Under interpretation of Florida’s law, he has no rights, but it is an outdated law. Relationships have changed, but the law hasn’t changed. The law was born with the idea that a marriage will remain intact with the intention of no one filing for divorce.”
The 1993 Florida Supreme Court ruling established a presumption of legitimacy for a child in paternity determination, intending that a child would be born legitimate and be born into an intact family of a husband and wife. The ruling, however, can prevent biological fathers from having any relationship with their children. In 1997, the court held that a child’s legitimacy is a separate and distinct issue from his or her paternity.
According to a WPTV report, Karpinski filed a petition action with the court for paternity rights. The mother rejected the petition and asserted that Karpinski has no standing to paternity rights. In a motion filed to dismiss the case, the mother acknowledged that Karpinski is the biological father, but claimed that her husband recognizes the child as his own.
Treasury Coast Legal recently located the mother's estranged husband, who claims not to be in contact with her or her son.
“We’ll now take the battle to court to help reestablish Karpinski's paternal rights over his own son,” Plymale said.
A court hearing on the case is set for March 31, according to a WPTV report.
“I cannot imaging watching a baby take the first steps and then the law tells me he is not my son,” Plymale said. “This is one of those things that when you become a lawyer, you envision fighting for. It gets us passionate to stop an injustice.”
Karpinski is currently married and cares for his wife's son.
Similar legal battles over paternity rights have recently taken place in Florida. Last January, according to another Palm Beach Post report, a Florida judge denied a parental custody case involving Christopher Farrell, 31, a Loxahatchee man who fathered a child with his married girlfriend. The married couple wants to raise the child together and has rejected any involvement from Farrell.