A 5-year-old Florida girl is in the middle of a legal battle between her biological father and the man married to her mother at the time of her birth.
The girl’s parents remain legally married and no divorce petition has been filed.
Yet, no one disputes that the biological father is not the mother’s husband, but under Florida law, the husband of a child born into a marriage is the legal father.
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 its 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 step parent. Step parents 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 50 percent of children, I believe, under the age of 13 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.