Orlando Paternity Attorney
It is becoming more common for children to be born outside of marriage, in Florida and across the US. However, this increase has not changed the laws regarding the rights and responsibilities of parents. Mothers and Fathers have equal obligations and interests, which is why establishing paternity can be very important to each parent. However, the process can be quite complicated and disputes over paternity can be extremely heated.
At Greater Orlando Family Law, our attorneys have considerable experience in paternity issues and the different routes of establishing it. We represent parents in Orlando, Orange County and throughout Central Florida, so we have in-depth knowledge of the applicable Florida laws. Please contact our office to schedule a no-cost consultation with an Orlando paternity attorney and check out some important information about paternity issues.
Overview of Florida’s Laws on Paternity
Generally, there are three ways that paternity – also termed “parentage” – is established under Florida law.
- Paternity can arise through legal presumption; a child born into a marriage is presumed to be a product of the married spouses. This is a rebuttable presumption which can be overcome by proof demonstrating that another person is the child’s father.
- Paternity may also be established through agreement of the parties. The unmarried parents can execute a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity”, in which the father admits parentage and swears under oath that he is the Father of the minor child or children in question. The VAP becomes law 60 days after execution, at which point neither party can revoke it.
- If neither of the above applies, paternity can be established through a court proceeding.
Establishing Paternity in Court
The most complicated of the three parentage methods in Florida is through a court proceeding, however this may also be the only way for a Father to gain time-sharing and parental responsibility for the minor child. Either parent or a government agency can initiate the proceedings by filing a petition in the proper family law court. During the proceedings, the judge will order genetic testing for the, child, and father claiming that the child either is or is not his biological child. DNA testing will reveal the parentage, at which point the court enters an order finding that the putative father is – or is not – the biological father. After this process the Father and Mother will need to work out a time-sharing schedule and parental responsibility either together, or through a Trial.
Implications of Paternity for All Parties
Regardless of which method is used to determine parentage, there are implications for both parents. Both are entitled to time-sharing and parental responsibility for the minor child, unless criminal activity or a history of violence make it inappropriate. The parents can agree on an arrangement for time-sharing and parental responsibility, , and a court will likely enter the order if it complies with the child’s best interests standard in Florida. If they cannot agree, it will be necessary to have a judge make this determination for the parents.
In addition, child support obligations attach as soon as paternity is established. The custodial parent has the right to seek support from the other parent. The non-custodial parent must pay child support according to the court’s order, and there are serious consequences for non-payment.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Orlando Paternity Attorney Today
For more information on paternity and how to establish or fight it, please contact Greater Orlando Family Law to schedule free 30-minute consultation. Our team can help you understand the process, and our paternity lawyers will explain your rights and responsibilities as a parent.