Paternity legally identifies the father of a child. Establishing paternity could be beneficial in several situations, such as when a child is born out of wedlock. In those cases, the mother is the child’s legal guardian, and paternity must be determined voluntarily or through a court order. Establishing paternity can be done between the child’s birth and before they turn 18. Here is what you need to know about establishing paternity in Florida.
Why is Establishing Paternity Important?
Establishing paternity is important because fathers have legal rights regarding their children, and children have the right to be supported by their parents. Establishing paternity is primarily done for support and custody reasons. If a man is the legal father of a child, he may need to pay child support or provide health care or life insurance for the child. Once paternity is established, the father may be entitled to custody or visitation. There are also benefits such as child dependency for tax reasons, adding a father to a birth certificate, and covering the costs of medical expenses determined once paternity is confirmed. Most importantly, verifying paternity is vital because fathers have the right to be an active part of their child’s life.
Who Can File a Paternity Suit?
● Pregnant women
● Unmarried women who wish to have a legal father named
● A man who believes he may be the biological father of a child
● A stepfather raising a child who wishes to become the child’s legal father
● An adult child who desires to establish paternity if not previously determined (must file within four years of turning 18)
Establishing Paternity in Court
In some cases, all that is needed to establish paternity is for both parents to sign an agreement. However, this is not always the case. If either party refuses to sign an agreement or voluntarily take a DNA test, a civil action may be filed in court. When this happens, a judge will determine paternity based on the evidence presented by both parties. This evidence would include genetic testing. Usually, both parents will need to be present during the court hearing. However, paternity can be established even if the alleged father does not appear in court as ordered.
In some cases, parents may not agree on the details of a paternity case. A man may deny that he is the father of a child, or a mother may deny the alleged father’s relationship with the child. A legal paternity action will need to be filed in cases where parents disagree. Even if both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, the agreement can be revoked within 60 days if it is determined to be fraudulent.
Alison M. Lopes: Fighting for Your Parental Rights
If you are in a situation where you need to establish paternity for your child, do not wait. Call the office of Alison M. Lopes at 407-442-2724 to file a paternity suit and get your children the proper care, support, and visitation they are entitled to receive.