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rights, but it is an outdated law.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
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
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
“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
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.