Florida Paternity Law

What happens when a couple has a child together, but are not married?  As long as the parents stay together, no issues may arise.  However, in Florida a father has no legal rights to their child unless both the mother and father execute an Acknowledgement of Paternity in the presence of two witnesses or a notary.  If 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 Florida paternity lawyer can help guide you through the process and advocate for you at mediation and in court.

Just because a father is listed on the birth certificate does not ensure that the father has any legal rights regarding 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, scientific 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 husband will also need to be involved in the paternity case and must also be served with a 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 take a DNA test.

Even if the parties can agree that the presumed father is the biological father of the child, they may disagree on other matters 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.

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.