TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A five-year-old Florida girl is in the middle of a legal battle between her biological father and the man married to her mother at the time of her birth.
Florida law says a child born into a marriage is legally the husband's, even though he's not the biological father.
It now falls to the Florida Supreme Court to sort it all out.
The girl's parents remain legally married and no divorce petition has been filed. Yet no one disputes that the biological father is not the mother's husband.
"You can have two legal moms, you can have two legal dads. You can have a mom and a dad. What you can't do is have three parents. You're only allowed to have two parents," explained Victor Waite, the child's legal father's attorney.
The biological father's attorney, Nancy Hass, is asking the court to give him shared custody and parenting rights.
"We do that all the time in custody cases. We do it in dissolution of marriage cases," Hass said.
"Maybe that has to be… maybe that's for another day, not this court," said Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente.
Ultimately, the lawyers and at least one judge say it's going to be up to the Legislature to modernize Florida's law.
And the legal father's attorney says even if he were to divorce, he wants to be a part of the child's life.
"I don't believe any state has allowed for three parents yet. It's the difference between having a legal parent and a step parent. Stepparents don't have the right to make legal decisions for the child. A legal parent does," said Waite.
And the biological father's attorney told us it's absurd to believe there can't be three legal parents.
"We have fifty percent of children, I believe, under the age of 13 who are living in blended families in the state of Florida. So, this is a very relevant issue," Hass said.
Hass says if the ruling goes against her client, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely.
Two lower courts have issued different rulings in the case; one giving the biological father some rights, a second court upholding the legal father's rights.