When a married couple has a child, the baby has two legal parents from the time it is born. When an unmarried woman gives birth, she is her child’s only legal parent unless she and the baby’s father take additional steps.

Establishing a baby’s paternity and ensuring the child has two legal parents is often beneficial for the parents and the baby. If your child is currently without a legal father, contact a local family attorney immediately. A Little Gables paternity lawyer assists mothers in obtaining a paternity determination for their child and represents fathers in bringing or defending against a paternity action.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Some children are born to unmarried parents and many are raised by single parents. It might initially seem like a waste of time or money to establish legal parentage, given that there is no longer a stigma to having just one parent.

However, a parent protects their child by ensuring they have two legal parents. If the father is entitled to government benefits, then the child might be eligible too – but not if the paternity is not official. When paternity is established, the child grows up knowing who their father is and has access to health and other information that could be important. A legal father must also pay child support, which helps the child and the mother.

A father also benefits from establishing paternity, which gives them parental rights. Once their relationship with the child is legalized, fathers can participate in raising a child if a court decides his participation is in the child’s best interests. A Little Gables paternity lawyer can explain how a Judge decides whether it is in a child’s interest to have parenting time with their father.

Procedures for Establishing Paternity

A father’s name on the birth certificate is evidence they are a baby’s parent but is inadequate to establish legal parentage. Unmarried parents can establish their child’s paternity by completing an Acknowledgment of Paternity Form and filing it with the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. The parents can file this form any time before the child turns 18.

If both parents did not sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, Florida Statute § 742.011 allows either one to bring a legal action seeking a determination of paternity. A Little Gables attorney could help prepare the required paternity petition and file it with the court.

In most cases, both parents agree about the child’s parentage. They can negotiate an agreement regarding child support and rights to parenting time and the Judge will issue them as a court order along with a declaration of parentage. If either party denies the man is the child’s father, the Judge might order genetic testing on the man and the child.

Father’s Right to Parenting Time

A court’s declaration that a man is a child’s legal father carries with it the obligation for the man to pay child support. However, although he has the right to seek parenting time and custody, a court might not award it.

A father who wants to develop a relationship with his child can negotiate a time-sharing plan with the mother. Parenting plans usually include a method for sharing decision-making responsibility and a detailed schedule about when each parent will spend time with the child, including overnights and extended stays. A paternity lawyer in Little Gables can help parents negotiate a parenting plan or review a plan they developed to ensure it meets legal requirements.

Judges must approve the parenting plan and they make decisions concerning children based on what is in the child’s best interests. If the mother objects to the father having time with the child, she must present her reasons. When the reason involves substance abuse, domestic violence, or ongoing criminal activity, a Judge might decide to allow a father only supervised time with the child or even none at all.

Work With a Little Gables Paternity Attorney Today to Resolve Your Dispute

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. Whether you are seeking to establish paternity or defending yourself against an untrue allegation, you need The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm to help you achieve your goals.

A Little Gables paternity lawyer will put their knowledge and skills to work for you. Call now to discuss your situation in a free case evaluation.