Florida has enacted laws concerning paternity that are meant to be in a child’s best interests. The laws address how to establish paternity, what rights parents have, and the obligations owed to a child once paternity is established. Our experienced family attorneys can assist you in understanding and navigating those laws.

Florida presumes that if a woman is married when she gives birth, the husband is the baby’s father. For unmarried parents, the rules for establishing paternity are more complicated. Emotions often cloud the process, especially if the pregnancy is unexpected. If you are a man who suspects you fathered a child, or you are a mother who wants to confirm parentage, a Coral Way paternity lawyer can settle the issues you are facing.

Establishing Paternity

When a woman in Florida gives birth and is not married, the baby’s father must be established before a man can claim parental rights. If neither party disputes paternity, they can submit an Acknowledgment of Paternity form and file it with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.

The parties can also voluntarily agree to DNA testing. Either parent or the child can petition the Circuit Court to establish paternity, according to Florida Statute 742.011. Because some fathers do not learn they are going to be one until long after a baby’s birth, the law permits petitions to be filed until the child turns 18. The court can also order a genetic test if either parent disputes parenthood.

If DNA confirms the tested party is the child’s biological father, the court confirms his legal status with a paternity order. The legal father’s name is then added to the child’s birth certificate.

Either party can petition the court to formalize child support, custody, and a visitation schedule. Until a father is officially confirmed, he has no rights involving the child’s welfare because the state automatically grants custody to unmarried mothers. A Coral Way paternity lawyer can talk with someone about the potential ways to confirm a child’s parentage in the eyes of the law.

Custody, Timesharing, and Child Support for Fathers

Once paternity is established, the court will treat unmarried parents like divorcing ones. Both parents will propose plans that consider the child’s needs, such as which parent will assume primary custody duties, a timesharing arrangement, and relevant information to assist the court in determining child support. Although the timesharing arrangement can affect child support payments, the court also considers:

  • The father’s income;
  • The mother’s income;
  • The cost of childcare while the primary caregiver works;
  • The cost of health insurance covering the child.

The court applies formulas to determine child support. Paternity orders can be modified over time, including if one parent decides to move further away. Even a move by a non-custodial parent affects timesharing, so both parents must ask the court’s permission before a move. An attorney in Coral Way can assist either parent interested in establishing legal fatherhood in Florida.

Learn How a Coral Way Paternity Attorney Can Help Today

Many children may benefit from having the presence of their father in their lives as they grow up. There are legal steps parents must take to establish paternity if they are unmarried during pregnancy and after the child’s birth. Paternity must be confirmed for a father to claim any parental rights or for a mother to collect child support.

If you are a new mother seeking child support from your baby’s father, or a man who suspects he is a baby’s biological father and would like to know for sure, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can help you. A Coral Way paternity lawyer can provide the legal foundation needed to confirm the truth. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.