In a recent Second District Court of Appeal decision, the Court affirmed the principle that there is no remedy under Florida law for a partner who has no biological connection to a child.  In Springer v. Springer, Case No. 2D18-2265, filed July 19, 2019, the Second District reviewed a decision of the Pinellas County Circuit Court wherein the trial court dismissed for lack of standing a former partners’ petition for declaratory relief seeking recognition of parentage and time-sharing. 

In affirming the decision, the Second District recounted the facts of the underlying lawsuit.  The parties, including the Biological Mother and her Former Partner, were involved in a relationship and subsequently discussed forming a family.  The Biological Mother, as the Court defined her, became pregnant by an intrauterine insemination procedure in which her egg was fertilized by donor sperm.  The Former Partner  paid for the sperm, but had no biological connection to the child.  The parties executed a “coparenting agreement” prior to the child being born, expressing the intention that the parties “jointly and equally” share parental responsibility.  The agreement recognized that their power to contract regarding the child was limited, and that Florida law would recognize the Biological Mother as the only mother of the child.  In 2015, the parties moved to Florida after the birth of the child, the parties never married, and the Former Partner did not adopt the child.

After the parties separated, the Former Partner sought to be recognized as the legal parent of the child, to be awarded time-sharing, and parental responsibility.  The Second District stated that a coparenting agreement between a biological parent and a nonparent is not enforceable under Florida law, citing other Florida appellate cases from 2006, 2013, 2015, and 2017.   The Second District acknowledged the trial court’s concerns that “’the law is slow to address’ changes in this area ‘as society and medicine create new factual situations’.”  Nonetheless, the Second District affirmed the trial court concluding that Florida law does not provide a remedy to a partner who has no biological connection to a child.

Nicole Deese Newlon is a Partner with Johnson, Cassidy, Newlon & DeCort, P.A. in Tampa, Florida. Her practice includes representation of clients in complex divorce cases where business valuation, ownership issues, and/or the division of business or other significant assets is critical. Nicole can be reached at (813) 699-4858 or nnewlon@jclaw.com.