Tavares based family law attorney Benjamin J. Cox has been assisting families with every aspect of divorce and child custody issues, including matters of paternity, since 1983. As an expert in the field, Benjamin understands that issues of paternity can get particularly contentious, and he is fully committed to providing his clients with extraordinary legal representation in cases of establishing or contesting paternity.
In accordance with Florida laws, paternity is determined either by the marriage - with the presumption that a child born during the marriage is the natural child of the husband; or through an Establishment of Paternity in Florida. Children benefit through the establishment of paternity by obtaining rights to family medical history, child support and health insurance, and relational benefits like social security or military benefits. Parents benefit similarly by receiving rights to be involved in legal decisions pertaining to the child, obtaining child support, and the establishment of visitation and time-sharing.
Establishing Paternity Through Florida Courts
When a child was not born during the course of a marriage, paternity can be established through Florida Courts in one of three ways: (1) the court orders genetic testing to establish paternity, and the Court issues an Order of Paternity; (2) both parties sign an Agreement to the establishment of paternity by signing an acknowledgment of paternity (3) the parents get married after the child is born and voluntarily provide an updated birth record to the court.
In cases where paternity is contested, a petition may be brought before a judge by either the mother of the child, or any man with reason to believe that he is the father of the child. Both parties will then be required to attend an evidentiary hearing to present paternity related evidence and the court may order all parties to be genetically tested. If the alleged father expresses refusal to participate in this proceeding, by default a judge may choose to determine him as the legal father in his absence, which can result in a subsequent child support order at the mother’s request.
The Florida Putative Father Registry exists to provide fathers the opportunity to put his parental rights on official record. It requires the claiming father to consent to the potential of being DNA tested and to state a willingness to provide support to the child. In exchange, if the child is to be put up for adoption, the alleged father must be contacted.
Contesting Paternity in Florida
Paternity petitions may also be used to contest allegations of paternity and to request disestablishment of paternity in cases where a male believes that he is not the biological father of a child. This petition must be served on the mother or current legal guardian of the child and must include a sworn affidavit from the father stating that he is not the biological father and has new evidence to support his contention. Typically, disestablishment of paternity will rely on the results of genetic (DNA) testing.
Contact Cox Law Firm today at (352) 343-0091 or use our online contact form to request more information or to schedule an appointment regarding paternity actions.