Paternity

Our office also handles paternity proceedings which may arise from either a case started by the alleged Father, Mother or Florida Department of Revenue or a Court Order.  Paternity testing can be ordered by the Court.  The Mother, Father and child may be ordered to submit to testing.  The testing can be by blood tests, swab test or other methods to obtain DNA samples.  The Parties may agree on how the testing will be paid for via stipulation or a court hearing will be necessary for a Judge to  determine who will pay for any scientific paternity testing.

Below are important factors to be considered in any paternity case.  If you have further questions, please call our office for more information.

Birth Certificate

The Father will be shown on the birth certificate if he acknowledges paternity when or close in time to the birth, or the Court orders the birth certificate to be changed to reflect the Fathers name.

Child’s Name

When the child is born, the Mother usually establishes the name of the child.  If the Mother and Father acknowledge Paternity and complete the application for a birth certificate they can both choose the child’s name.  If the name is not established by this means, the Court can order the change of the child’s name.

Marital Status

Most paternity actions involve a child born out of wedlock.  Paternity actions also occur between married persons where someone other than the Husband is the Father of the child, or where the Husband has fathered a child outside his marriage.  There is a presumption that a child born to a married woman is the child of the husband.  However, this presumption can be overcome by DNA and other evidence.  The Mother and Husband can sign an “Affidavit of Denial of Paternity” where both agree that the Husband is not the Father of the child.  This can prevent the Husband from having a child support responsibility for a child that is not his if there is ever a future dissolution of marriage proceeding.

Age of Parents

Generally, the age of the parents does not matter and parents of any age can establish paternity.

Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility of a child can either be awarded to both the Father and Mother or only one parent, depending on the situation of each parent.  The Parties may also sign an agreement addressing this issue that the Court may consider in awarding parental responsibility.

Child Support

Generally, the same rules that apply to child support in divorce actions, also apply to child support in Paternity actions.  Either party can be ordered to pay child support to the other.  Retroactive child support relating back to the date of birth or up to two years prior to the date of the initiation of paternity proceedings may be ordered by the Court.  The Parties may also sign an agreement providing for the payment of child support which can then be ratified by the Court.

Timesharing

If the Parties cannot agree to a visitation schedule, the Court may determine parental timesharing for the parents.  In the State of Florida, the amount of overnights with the child by each parent has an effect on the child support amount.

Voluntarily Acknowledging to Paternity

Instead of pursuing scientific testing, a Father may elect to voluntarily acknowledge paternity without DNA testing.