Parents often find it necessary to establish paternity through the courts for several reasons. Mothers often file paternity actions to receive child support, while fathers typically file them to establish custody or visitation rights and have a say in major decisions in the child’s life. Fathers also file paternity actions to prove they are not the father of the child in question. Regardless of our clients’ reasons for filing, The Joseph Firm provides them with support through this process, as well as related child support and time-sharing proceedings.
In Florida, having a father’s name on the birth certificate of a child born out of wedlock creates a legal presumption of paternity, but does not guarantee the father’s rights. If unmarried parents have a dispute regarding the paternity of a child, paternity needs to be established in court. A Petition to Establish Paternity, known as a paternity action, is used to determine parental responsibility, time‐sharing, child support, and other issues common in family court proceedings.
Any woman who is pregnant or has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or any child may bring proceedings in the circuit court to determine the paternity of the child when paternity has not been established by the law or otherwise.
In cases where the paternity of a child is under dispute, the court orders a DNA test. If there is clear and convincing evidence of paternity on the basis of this testing or other evidence, a party can motion the court to issue a temporary order requiring child support. In addition, the court can order the father to pay money to the complainant, her guardian, or any other person assuming responsibility for the child to cover reasonable attorney’s fees, hospital or medical expenses, cost of confinement, and any other expenses related to the birth of the child, as well as all costs of the proceeding.
If a judgment of paternity contains only a child support award with no parenting plan or time-sharing schedule, the parent who was awarded the child support will receive all of the time-sharing and sole parental responsibility. In a paternity judgment with no added provisions, the mother is presumed to have all of the time-sharing and sole parental responsibility.
Although paternity actions seem fairly straightforward, Florida rules and laws governing the issue have changed significantly over the years. The Joseph Firm’s South Florida Paternity Lawyers are experts on these issues, and we’re dedicated to helping our clients understand the law, their rights, and steps they need to take to get the results they deserve. To schedule a free telephone consultation, please call (305)-501-0922 to speak with a South Florida Paternity Lawyer