Statute of Limitations for Paternity in Florida Probate

A child may establish paternity in Decedent’s probate estate, provided the child complies with the statute of limitations governing such paternity claims.  See Fla. Stat. § 742.10(1). 

In Rose v. Sonson, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 13408 (Fla. 3d DCA Sep. 7, 2016) the Third District Court of Appeal recently affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a petition for paternity in a probate proceeding where the putative child’s paternity claim was time barred. The child’s petition was styled as a petition to determine beneficiaries, and was dismissed as being time barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

Here, a child was born out of wedlock in 1964 in New York. At the time, only the child’s mother could initiate paternity actions.  The law has since been amended to permit children born out of wedlock to bring actions in their own name to determine paternity.  Such determinations are not indefinite, however.  An adjudication of paternity must be sought within four years from the date the child reaches majority.  Such an action is permitted in the paternal Decedent’s probate estate and would serve as an adjudication of paternity for purposes of inheritance.

Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 95.11(3)(b), the statute of limitations is four years for, “[a]n action relating to the determination of paternity, with the time running from the date the child reaches the age of majority.

Fla. Stat. § 732.108(2) governs an adjudication of paternity for the purpose of intestate succession as follows:

For the purpose of intestate succession . . . a person born out of wedlock is a descendant of his or her mother and is one of the natural kindred of all members of the mother’s family. The person is also a descendant of his or her father and is one of the natural kindred of all members of the father’s family, if:

* * *

(b) The paternity of the father is established by an adjudication before or after the death of the father. Chapter 95 [Florida Statutes] shall not apply in determining heirs in a probate proceeding under this paragraph

In Rose v. Sonson, the child sat on his rights and was held to be time barred when he attempted to have his paternity adjudicated after the Decedent’s death many years after he had reached majority.  The Court, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Estate of Smith, 685 So. 2d 1206 (Fla. 1996) that a putative child’s paternity claim following “Decedent’s death in 2012 was time barred because more than four years has passed since [the putative child] attained majority in 1982.

This decision is another reminder of the detriment(s) one may face for sitting on their rights. Had the putative child sought the determination years ago he would have been treated as an heir and entitled to his intestate share because Decedent, here died without a will.

Find Your Probate Star

Lawyer Locator Front End

Miami

Niuris Bezanilla

Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale)

Natasha M. Dalton

Pinellas County (Clearwater)

Matthew Weidner

Orange County (Orlando)

Philip W. Gunthert

Sarasota County

Dawn Bates-Buchanan

Hillsborough County (Tampa)

R. Todd Burbine

Marion County (Ocala)

Katina Pantazis

Palm Beach County

Nicole Quattrocchi

St. Lucie County

Romaine Brown

Collier County (Naples)

Gregory J. Nussbickel

Pasco County (Port Richey)

Matthew Weidner

Volusia County (Daytona)

Heather Caeners

Martin County (Stuart)

Jon L. Martin

Seminole County (Sanford)

Matthew Weidner

Duval County (Jacksonville)

Long H. Duong

Sumter County (The Villages)

Matthew Weidner

Polk County (Lakeland)

Lesly Vaillancourt

Manatee County

Brice Zoecklein

Osceola County (South Orlando)

Matthew Weidner

Monroe County (Key West)

Matthew Weidner

Lee County (Ft. Myers)

Scott Kuhn

Lake County (West Orlando)

Matthew Weidner

Charlotte County

Matthew Weidner

Complete Guide to Florida Probate

Opening the Probate Estate / Initial Steps
Payment of Creditors, Expenses And Beneficiaries
Florida Spousal and Family Rights
Closing the Probate Estate
Probate Litigation and Will Contests
Florida Probate Quick Guides

Complete Guide to Florida Probate

Opening the Probate Estate - Initial Steps
Payment of Creditors, Expenses And Beneficiaries
Florida Spousal and Family Rights

Find Your Florida Probate Star

Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale)

Natasha M. Dalton

Pasco County (Port Richey)

Matthew Weidner

Sarasota County

Dawn Bates-Buchanan

Palm Beach County

Nicole Quattrocchi

Duval County (Jacksonville)

Long H. Duong

St. Lucie County

Romaine Brown

Orange County (Orlando)

Philip W. Gunthert

Marion County (Ocala)

Katina Pantazis

Pinellas County (Clearwater)

Matthew Weidner

Collier County (Naples)

Gregory J. Nussbickel

Miami

Niuris Bezanilla

Hillsborough County (Tampa)

R. Todd Burbine

Volusia County (Daytona)

Heather Caeners

Martin County (Stuart)

Jon L. Martin

Lee County (Ft. Myers)

Scott Kuhn

Sumter County (The Villages)

Matthew Weidner

Polk County (Lakeland)

Lesly Vaillancourt

Manatee County

Brice Zoecklein