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, certain 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 an important aspect of securing custody.
If you require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to establish paternity, schedule a 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 parental rights — contact us today.
What Is Paternity Establishment?
Paternity establishment refers to the process of determining a child’s legal father. A child born to unmarried parents in the State of Florida has no legal father until paternity is 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 ensuring 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 as well as 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.
How Does A Putative Father Establish Paternity?
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. In order to successfully establish paternity, putative fathers often need full support and/or cooperation of the mother. In the event that 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 the mother continues to avoid acknowledgment of the father, additional 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.
What Occurs After Paternity Is Established?
Paternity and child support go hand in hand. Since the processes of paternity establishment and child support are interdependent, the presence one almost always includes the other. Child support may be ordered retroactively for up to two years before the petition is filed. When two unmarried people have a child and separate, it’s important to pursue a paternity action in order to get a court-ordered time-sharing arrangement for the child.
Sometimes, the Department of Revenue will seek to establish a court order for child support. However, the Department of Revenue court cases will not address the time-sharing arrangement or another parenting plan for the child. As such, the payor for purposes of child support may receive a court order to pay child support without being granted the right to time-sharing with the child.
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 legal and/or biological father of the child.
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 effectively manage your case.