A Treasure Coast man is challenging a Florida law to gain paternal rights for his son. This is the second father to speak out about his legal battle for paternity rights.
"The last thing he said to me was 'I love you Dada'," said John Karpinski.
Karpinski's almost 3-year-old son has a year's worth of gifts waiting for him at daddy's house. Birthday gifts, Valentine's Day gifts, and Christmas gifts all sitting on a his toddler's bed.
"He’s outgrown probably most of it that’s even here," said Karpinski. "I was there for his first steps, first words, feeding him every day."
But he says a short time after he broke off his five year relationship with the boy's mother, he says she also separated him from his son.
"She cut all contact. I haven't seen my child. I have no way to get a hold of her," said Karpinski.
The mother of the child was legally married when the boy was born and still is. In those cases, a Florida law gives all paternal rights to the husband.
"The law favors children to be born legitimate," said attorney Shaun Plymale with Treasure Coast Legal.
Plymale is representing Karpinski and helping him challenge the Florida law.
"Mr. Karpinski was a great dad and was doing all of the things that are expected of a father and then to have that ripped away from him is certainly a different circumstance that even this law ever contemplated," added Plymale.
The child's mother is rejecting Karpinski's paternity petition. In a motion filed to dismiss the case, she does not dispute that Karpinski is the biological father, but says her husband recognizes the child as his own and they plan to raise him together.
"It's petrifying. You don't know, you hear every night you cry and hope he's okay," said Karpinski.
Karpinski wishes he would have known about the law. He says he would have pushed for his then girlfriend to divorce her husband. Now he says he is just focused on changing the law.
"I will never stop as long as there is breath in my body. I want my boy home."
Karpinski's attorney says in any case where a biological father has a child outside of a marriage he has no rights until he files a paternity petition with the court. In this case, they are trying to fight an established Florida law.
We contacted local lawmakers to weigh in on this law and are waiting to receive a response. We also went to the mother's listed home address and could not reach her. The next hearing for the case is on March 31.