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There's no dispute a Treasure Coast man is the father of a toddler, but the mother claims he has no parental rights and she has a state law on her side.
A judge dismissed John Karpinski's petition for paternity in court Friday, but is giving him another opportunity to amend his petition for paternity to show why he is an exception to the Florida law.
The well established state law says any child born in a marriage belongs to that marriage meaning that because John's son's mother was married at the time she gave birth, her husband has parental rights to the child, not him.
"I was there for his first steps, first words, feeding him every day," said Karpinski in an interview in February.
Now instead of being a part of his toddler's milestones, he's fighting for his right to be in his son's life. Karpinski says the child's mother Sonja Shott Grecco was married, but separated from her husband during his 5-year relationship with her. They had a son that he says he helped raise during the first year of the boy's life, but shortly after he separated from Shott, he says he also separated him from his son.
"It's frustrating, but at the same time it's a sigh of relief that the ball is actually moving now," said Karpinski after his court hearing Friday.
The judge is giving him 10 says to correctly file the paternity petition. Then, Shott and her attorney have 10 days to file their motion to dismiss it.
"When you talk about a father that was there for the first steps, there for the first words, whose last phrase to that his son said to his father is 'I love you Dada', that outrages common sense," said Shaun Plymale, Karpinski's attorney.
Shott did not make any comments. Her motion to dismiss the paternity petition does not deny Karpinski is the father, but it says based on Florida law she and her husband plan to raise her son as their own.
When NewsChannel 5 asked Shott's attorney, Bruce Baillie, why they are fighting the paternity petition, his only response was "the paternity petition was not properly plead."
Karpinski hopes when he goes before the judge again, he'll be one step closer to proving he has rights as the father.
"The fact that I haven't seen him is heartbreaking," said Karpinski. "I just want to see my son."
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