The concept of a traditional family unit can encompass a diverse range of different types of support systems and family members. Whatever your family arrangement, particular aspects of child custody are certain — establishing paternity is crucial both to children born to unwed couples as well as parents who have questions about a child’s paternity. From establishing child support to ensuring proper childhood development, paternity establishment is a critical aspect of securing custody.
If you require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to establish paternity, schedule a free consultation with The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of family laws in the State of Florida and can assist you through each step of the paternity establishment process. Secure your rights — contact our law offices in Gainesville, FL today!
What Is Paternity Establishment?
Paternity establishment refers to the process of determining a child’s legal father. When a child is born to unmarried parents in the State of Florida, the child has no legal father until paternity is legally established.
How Is Paternity Established?
There are a couple of ways in which unmarried parents can establish paternity. Both parties can sign an acknowledgment of paternity — or paternal statement — either at the hospital during the time of birth or at a later date. However, signing the child’s birth certificate or acknowledgment of paternity does not necessarily guarantee the paternity of the individual in a court of law. The most effective method to ensure a father’s paternity to a child born out of wedlock is through a paternity judgment. Unmarried couples can also establish paternity to a child with a written document that includes basic information about each of the parents and the child. This form should be signed in the presence of an authorized notary and filed with the appropriate court. For more information on paternity establishment in Florida or to schedule a consultation to discuss your paternity case, contact our Gainesville attorneys.
Who Can File To Establish Paternity?
Either the child’s mother or father may file a petition to establish paternity. In addition, any person who believes to be the father of the child may file a petition for paternity establishment.
Can Paternity Be Established Without Support Of Both Parents?
A person that has not established official paternity over a child but still declares biological rights to the child is considered the putative father in a court of law. To successfully establish paternity, putative fathers often need the mother’s full support and cooperation. If a mother is unwilling to acknowledge paternity, the putative father has the option of filing a petition to establish paternity. The mother will then receive the notice, and a response will be demanded of her. If she continues to avoid acknowledgment of the father, further court proceedings will likely occur to establish paternity. When one party decides to pursue a paternity action, the issue of paternity may be disputed or the parties may already agree concerning the identity of the father. When the issue is in dispute, the court may order DNA testing to confirm the biological father’s ties to the child or children.
Time-Sharing In Paternity Cases
When two unmarried people have a child and separate, it’s necessary to pursue a paternity action in order to get a court-ordered time-sharing arrangement for the child. Without first establishing paternity a father is unable to seek joint custody and will have no legal say in time sharing or parenting decisions. Once a paternity action has been commenced, the court will likely order a blood test be performed on the father and child. Should a putative father’s DNA match that of the child’s paternity can be legally established. When paternity has been established the court can work with both legal parents to develop a parenting plan/time-sharing arrangement that caters to the child’s best interests.
During this phase of paternity establishment, it is of the utmost importance that a parent consults with our experienced Gainesville lawyers to ensure their rights are being protected and a favorable custody arrangement is achieved for their child.
How Child Support Is Awarded In Paternity Cases
If a child is born out of wedlock and the parents choose to separate, paternity will need to be established before child support can be awarded. However, this doesn’t mean that a father can simply decide not to establish paternity and forego child support payments. In Florida, a child’s mother has the right to file a petition to establish paternity so that she may collect support from the father. Once again, this process typically involves a court-ordered DNA test. Additionally, the mother is not bound by any specific time-frame for filing a petition to establish paternity and has the option of requesting retroactive support for up to 24 months before the filing date. Should a court’s judgment of paternity solely contain a child support award, then the parent being awarded child support will also gain custody and full parental responsibility. This means that If a father wants to gain any kind of custody or time-sharing with his child, he must participate in the process.
What Are The Benefits Of Establishing Paternity?
Sometimes, parents who undoubtedly recognize a father’s biological legitimacy don’t understand how it could possibly be beneficial to establish paternity with the state. The following are a few of the top advantages that come with notifying the state of paternity:
- More Complete Family Medical History
- Financial Benefits For Your Child (Insurance, Social Security, and Veterans Benefits)
- Parental Rights To Your Child
- The Father’s Name On Birth Certificate
On Which Grounds Can Paternity Be Disestablished?
In some cases, fathers can unknowingly take care of a child who is not biologically related to the father. This type of information is sometimes revealed later in the child’s life, resulting in difficult emotions and substantial confusion. Courts are able to reverse the paternity establishment by disestablishing paternity. This process allows the father to be permanently removed from all files and documents that identify him as the child’s legal and/or biological father.
Disestablishing paternity can be an emotionally draining experience. Because of the substantial paperwork required with paternity disestablishment, it’s important that you contact a divorce lawyer who has experience in all facets of Florida family law to manage your case effectively.