Biological father challenges Florida law stripping him of parental rights

Posted at 11:52 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 10:44:03-05

He lives just a few blocks away from his son, but Christopher Farrell doesn't know what his toddler looks like.

A Florida law is keeping the father from being a part of his child's life.

"I assume he's walking now. He's over one, but yeah, I missed the first step. I missed the first everything. He's calling another guy dada probably, but that's something I have to deal with," said Farrell.

Farrell would give anything to be able to raise his son. When he found out his ex-girlfriend was pregnant, he put together a nursery in his Loxahatchee home for his soon-to-be baby boy. The child never got to sleep in it.

"One second I think I'm going to be a part of my son's life and then the next second I'm thrown to the wayside," added Farrell.

Farrell's ex-girlfriend is married. He says she lived with him for a few months when she was separated from her husband, but she got back with her husband after she became pregnant. 

"She blocked my number and cut off all ties and contact after that," said Farrell.

As the biological father of the baby, Farrell says he's taken his fight to the court, but a Florida law from the 90s gives all the parental rights to the mother's husband. 

"What the law may intend is that the child would be born legitimate, would be born into an intact family of a husband and wife so that the child would not be quote end quote stigmatized in any way," said WPTV Legal Expert Michelle Suskauer. 

The law basically states a child born into a marriage takes priority over biology. 

"It's horrible. Everyone keeps saying it's like losing a kid, almost like he's dead but he's three blocks away. I know he is not, it's even harder," added Farrell.

Farrell says after begging, the child's mother met him on a street corner when the baby was two months old. For a few precious minutes Farrell held his baby boy for the first time. 

"I was ecstatic. I was sitting here crying. I didn't know what to do," said Farrell.

Farrell hasn't been allowed to see his son since. He says he and his attorney are determined to challenge the law.

"I personally think all child custody cases should be on a case by case basis so you protect the child's best interest. I don't think you should have a blanket law like this one, based upon old feelings of a stigma of a child for illegitimacy," said Rebekah Brown-Wiseman, Farrell's attorney.

Farrell says he sees no reason why his son can't have two dads.

"There is no negative to having more people in your life that want to love you, want to be around you, that want to spoil you," he added.

Suskauer says cases like these are extremely uncommon, which is why they are not heard of. Right now Farrell's case is going to an appeals court where a judge could make a ruling or send it to the Florida Supreme Court.

We did reach out to the mother of the child and her attorney, both declined to comment at this time.