Duval County

Jacksonville dad’s name not on daughter’s birth certificate because fiancée still legally married

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jonathan Sullivan feels like he is waiting in limbo. His newborn baby girl was brought into the world Tuesday. However, hospital staff said his name cannot be on the birth certificate.

“No father should have to go through this,” Sullivan said. “It’s my daughter biologically, but just because of the state statute I’m not allowed to appear on my own daughter’s birth certificate.”

Sullivan’s fiancée, Cynthia Anthony, was previously married. However, her legal husband is no longer in the picture.

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“She is legally separated, has been for more than a year,” Sullivan said. “When registration came in to do the birth certificate and everything like that, she [hospital employee] was like, ‘OK, we can’t put him on the birth certificate because you’re still technically legally married.’”

While the couple was very angry about this, Memorial Hospital is just following the law.

Per Florida Statute 382.013, “If the mother is married at the time of birth, the name of the husband shall be entered on the birth certificate as the father of the child, unless paternity has been determined otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

We spoke with our Action News Jax Law and Safety expert, Dale Carson, who practiced family law for10 years. He explained why the law is the way it is.

“The way the law is written is — marriage is really important,” Carson said. “So, if you’re married and even though you’re separated for an extended period of time, under Florida law, the husband and that marriage is the legal father of the child that’s born -- even though he may not be the father.”

Carson said this is in place to protect the child.

“The community is concerned about who’s gonna take care of the child,” Carson said. “When you have a husband and wife, the family is supposed to take care of that child. It’s to assure and protect the child, not to make certain that someone’s name doesn’t get on a piece of paper.”

Carson said there are ways to get around it.

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“In order to sort that out, what has to happen is someone has to file with the court an actual affidavit of nonpaternity. That’s what it’s called. [It] says that’s not my child, and so both parties, both the wife and the husband, have to file that,” Carson said. “Under Florida law, the individual who is the actual biological father will have to file another document, an affidavit of paternity. It gets really confusing.

Carson said the best way to avoid this: get a divorce prior to giving birth.