Florida Paternity Lawyer
Who has custody of a child in Florida when the parents are not married? As long as the parents stay together, no issues may arise.
A change in Florida law went into effect July 2023 giving fathers additional rights in some circumstances. The following was written prior to the enactment of the new Florida paternity law.
In Florida a father has no legal rights to their child unless he is married to the mother at the time of birth or both the mother and father execute an Acknowledgement of Paternity in the presence of two witnesses or a notary. If the mother and father aren’t married & no Acknowledgement of Paternity has been signed by the parents, then either party (or the child) may file for a determination of paternity with the court.
The paternity process can be complicated, but a licensed Florida paternity lawyer can help guide you through the process and advocate for you at mediation and in court. The process can be especially trying for the father if the mother has decided to not allow the father to have time-sharing with the child. It may be necessary to get a temporary time-sharing schedule ordered by the court until the pending litigation is complete. Except in cases of an emergency an unmarried father may have to wait weeks or months before a court ordered parenting plan can be put in place ordering the father to have time-sharing with their child. During this time, both parents should try to work together to allow the child to have meaningful contact with each parent.
Just because a father is listed on the birth certificate the father does not automatically have his full legal rights involving his son or daughter. Additionally, just being listed on the birth certificate does not ensure that the father will be liable for child-support. If there is any question as to whether the father is the biological father of the child, DNA testing may need to be ordered by the court to determine whether the father may be adjudicated the “legal father” of the child.
The issue of paternity can be even more complicated if the mother was married to another man at the time the child was born. In Florida, a woman’s husband is considered the legal father of any child born during the marriage. In this instance, an Acknowledgment of Paternity will not give the (presumed) biological father any legal rights. Instead, the mother’s husband will also need to be involved in the paternity case and must also be served with a copy of the paternity petition.
Many times all parties agree on who is the legal father of the child. However, when they do not agree, a paternity test (typically in the form of a DNA swab) will need to be administered. If the parties do not agree to the testing, the court may order the presumed father and child to undergo genetic testing.
Even if the parties can agree that the presumed father is the biological father of the child, they may disagree on other issues such as time-sharing and child support. While reaching an agreement through informal negotiations or mediation is preferred, sometimes it may become necessary to have a judge determine a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child and order how much child-support should be paid.
If you have a child born out of wedlock, Pinellas Family Lawyer can help you determine your legal rights and how best to proceed with your paternity lawsuit. Contact a Florida paternity lawyer for a confidential consultation about your paternity case today.
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Family law and paternity lawyer serving Oldsmar, FL, Dunedin, FL, Safety Harbor, FL, Clearwater, FL, Clearwater Beach, FL, Largo, FL, Tarpon Spring, FL, Tampa, FL, Westchase, FL, New Port Richey, FL, St. Pete, FL, Palm Harbor, FL, Pinellas Park, FL, Belleair, FL, Madeira Beach, FL, and throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County.