Mastering the Family Law Maze in Florida: Paternity Determination, Custody Rights, and Financial Support

Hello! So, I've got a family law doozy of a post for the attorneys today. I am posting for a friend, so please bear with me. Ok... here we go lol

In December of 2012, Husband met ex-wife, married in February, and divorced in November. Ex-wife was pregnant and had the baby in November. The dates are very close to determine if the child was actually his or not. Ex-wife told him that it wasn't his. In their divorce, the ex-wife swore under oath that the child was not his and that she has no children nor is pregnant with a child that would be his at the time either.

She is "claiming" that when the child was 4 & 9 months old, she reached out to him and told him that it was his, but claims that he didn't want anything to do with the kid. This did not actually happen, but she claims she recorded it (which, from my understanding, even if that were true, wouldn't be legal because Florida is a two-party consenting state).

Fast forward to 2018, he receives a message from some random lady on Facebook claiming that she is a spouse to one of his co-workers and she worked at the same place as the ex-wife. Her message stated, in short, that the ex-wife was claiming that he was the dad and was a deadbeat, dragging his name through the mud, etc., and informed him that the ex-wife was strung out on opioids and she was concerned for the child's well-being. At that point, he chose to make the call to do a welfare check and informed law officials that he has been told all these years he was not the father, but was concerned so he made the call anyway. He never heard back from law officials, but the ex-wife sent him a message after the call stating that he needs to leave her and the child alone, that he is not the father, and she is married to the child's father and to worry about himself. He responded and explained that he was just informed about the child being his and how the situation arose, and she told him again that the child is not his and to stay out of her life, so he did.

Fast forward to this year... out of the blue, the ex-wife messages him again on Facebook and says that the child is indeed his and she needs to provide a paternity test or the child will lose their Medicaid. She claims that she doesn't want any money from him but just needs to establish paternity for the health benefits. He responded and explained his confusion as she told him over the last 10 years he wasn't the father. She essentially told him she lied and the child is his. Now she is clearly going after child support as she claims that the child support office has called her several times trying to get her to fill out all the information, and she needs all his personal information to send to them. She also claims that if she doesn't send it to them, she will lose health insurance and food stamps. (I thought that the child support office only contacted you via mail unless YOU called them??) The ex-wife claims that the state could take up to 6 months to a year for a DNA test, and if he goes that route, then she will let the state go after him for back child support. However, if he pays out of pocket for the DNA test, then she will only go after child support for moving forward. She also claims that the state takes over and she doesn't even have a say in back child support. She also told him that she will not allow 50/50 custody and she will only allow supervised visits when she says so.

Given her history with arrest records on domestic violence and drug charges/abuse, her living in a run-down trailer and barely making ends meet... what grounds does he have to potentially get custody if the DNA test comes back as his? Can she demand that he doesn't get custody, etc.? He DOES want to be a part of the child's life and can provide a better home situation in its entirety, makes a fair amount of money, can provide health insurance, etc. What advice can anyone offer on how to handle this situation? Will he actually be held accountable for back child support given that he has proof over the years of her telling him he is not the father and to leave her alone, plus the sworn oath? Is she just trying to use a scare tactic against him since she contradicts herself multiple times and can't afford an attorney? He was told on the advice of an attorney to not respond or acknowledge her, but when he doesn't respond, she gets more and more aggressive and threatening about back child support, etc.

I hope this helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.

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