When unmarried parents in Florida separate, they may not automatically have the same rights as married parents regarding child custody, time-sharing, and child support. For unmarried parents, paternity needs to be legally established before custodial rights or child support can be sought. Just being listed on a child’s birth certificate is not enough and unless the parents have signed a legal acknowledgment of paternity, they will need a judicial declaration of paternity. Once paternity is established, the same rights that married parent have will apply. A normal child custody case be complicated on its own and oftentimes necessitates the help of a family law attorney. Paternity cases add an additional level of procedures and complexities. The experienced Tampa attorneys at the Family Law Advocates, P.A., are ready to assist both mothers and fathers with all aspects of their paternity cases, including:
- Establishing Paternity
- Challenging a Paternity Claim
- Child Custody Rights
- Time-Sharing (Visitation) Rights
- Child Support and Child Related Costs
Our attorneys recognize that nothing matters more to most parents than the precious time they get with their children. We also understand the importance of receiving or paying appropriate and fair financial support for the raising of that child. The first step in the paternity case process is understanding your rights and options.
We offer services regarding all aspects of paternity cases and are equipped to efficiently and effectively advocate for your rights to make sure you are treated fairly throughout the process. Our only goal is the best possible outcome for you, the client.
Contact us today, at (813) 592-5000, to schedule your initial consultation with a member of our family law legal team.Establishing Paternity in Florida
Unless unmarried parents have legally acknowledged paternity, at birth or after (which entails more than signing a birth certificate), paternity must be established through the judicial system. The first step in the process is the filing of a petition for paternity with the circuit court. If parents agree on the issue of paternity, they can merely submit a stipulation reflecting such. They can also file a joint petition. However, if they do not agree, one parent will file the petition and have the other parent served. From there, if the other parent denies paternity, a motion for DNA testing will need to be filed and should be authorized under Florida Statute 742.12. As statute sets forth certain time frames or deadlines for taking action, it is important to be aware of when you need to act. DNA test results showing a statistical probability of paternity, 95% or greater, create a rebuttable presumption of paternity. If that presumption is not rebutted in court, a judgment of paternity will enter.
Florida law also allows for the filing of a petition to disavow paternity, which might be filed in situations in which a parent, generally by a father, learns he is not actually the biological parent of a child. In those cases, DNA testing also applies. Statute does set forth certain criteria for disavowing paternity. It also lays out various acts of a father that, if made after learning they may not be the father, can negate a petition to disavow.
Once a Court enters a legal judgment of paternity, the father may seek to establish orders tied into child custody, time-sharing rights, and parental responsibilities. The mother may seek orders to establish child support. Florida statute also authorizes an array of other relief related to support, including hospital costs, child support back to the birth of the child, and potentially attorney fees and court costs.
When it comes to establishing paternity and asserting your legal rights regarding your child, it just makes sense to have an experienced paternity lawyer on your side. The professional legal team at the Family Law Advocates can guide you through this complicated process. Your attorney will be prepared to work towards settling your paternity matter. If settlement cannot be reached, we will be ready to litigate your case in court. As skilled negotiators and litigators, we know what is needed to help you preserve and protect your rights regarding your child.Let the Family Law Advocates Help You to Establish Paternity
Our highly experienced team of paternity and family law attorneys represents clients all across the Tampa Bay area. Our service area includes the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater area and throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough, and surrounding counties.
If you are a father seeking to establish legal rights with your child, or a mother seeking to establish paternity and child support, we know we can help you. Trust the paternity lawyers at the Family Law Advocates to secure the rights and benefits of paternity for you and your child. Give us a call today, or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.
Office in Tampa and available by appointment in St. Petersburg.