It has become commonplace for couples to have children together while unmarried. Similarly, many single mothers give birth without a father in the picture.

Many of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood are available only to legal parents. A single parent wishing to establish their child’s paternity must take legal steps to do so. Sometimes it is as easy as filing a form but the court might need to be involved in other cases.

A South Miami paternity lawyer can represent either parent in a paternity action. A reliable family attorney can ensure your child has two legal parents or can push back against a paternity action if you are not a child’s father.

Benefits of Establishing Legal Parentage

Establishing paternity provides significant benefits. Sometimes people feel there is no need to formally declare that a specific man is the father of a child. However, a child is disadvantaged when they have only one legal parent.

Having two legal parents means there are other family members to turn to if the mother dies or cannot care for the child. Knowing both parents can give the child access to their complete medical history and connect them to their extended family. The child can also receive financial support and could be entitled to assistance if the father receives Social Security or veteran’s benefits. A paternity lawyer in South Miami can help someone understand what is available in a specific situation.

In return, fathers receive the opportunity to be a parent and participate in nurturing and raising a child. Mothers receive the father’s financial support and the ability to share child-rearing responsibilities if the father has the right to parenting time.

Ways to Establish Paternity

Sometimes an unmarried father’s name appears on a child’s birth certificate. Designation as the father on a birth certificate is not enough to establish legal paternity.

The simplest way to establish parentage is for the parents to file an Acknowledgement of Paternity with the Bureau of Vital Statistics after the baby is born. Both parents must sign the form before two witnesses or a notary.

If the mother is legally married to someone other than the father when the child is born, or if both parents do not sign the acknowledgment, then the best option is to go to court. A South Miami attorney assists parents in bringing a petition for a court order establishing paternity.

Either the parent or the child could file the petition. If there is no dispute as to who the child’s biological parents are, the court will issue an order establishing the man is the father. If either party disputes the man is the child’s father, the Judge could order DNA testing. When the mother was married to someone other than the father when the child was born, the husband must be involved in the proceeding to disclaim paternity.

Paternity Rights and Obligations in South Miami

Once a man is designated a child’s legal father, he has obligations to the child and parental rights. Usually, a Judge will make a child support order when they issue the order establishing paternity.

However, a father also has the right to seek parenting time and the right to make decisions for the child. If the father seeks to use his rights, the parents must develop a parenting plan describing when the child will spend time with the father.

If the parents do not agree on a plan, Florida Statute § 61.13 requires the Judge to award parenting time based on the child’s best interests. The law presumes children benefit from significant relationships with both parents. However, if a child is older and has no relationship with the father, or if there is reason to question the father’s ability to parent responsibly, a Judge might limit the father’s access to the child.

Consult a South Miami Paternity Attorney Today

If you want to establish paternity for your child, or if someone claims you are a father and you want to dispute it, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can assist you.

Get help from an experienced legal professional and schedule a free consultation with a South Miami paternity lawyer today.