What Steps Do I Take To Prove Paternity In Florida?
Paternity in Florida is tied to marriage, as a child born to married parents is presumed to be the offspring of both spouses. When a woman is unmarried, the father is not legally recognized and must prove paternity. There is a process for doing so under laws on determination of parentage, which is a term often used interchangeably with paternity. A woman who is pregnant or has a child, a man who believes he is a father of someone’s child, and the child all have the power to establish parentage. In some cases, the government may also seek to officially prove paternity.
Regardless of which position you occupy in the process, you will certainly want to know the steps involved. You could be the one proceeding with legal action, but you may also have reason to dispute parentage. An Orlando paternity lawyer provides critical legal support for these matters, so it is smart to retain help with the following steps:
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: Preparing a VAP is an option for parents who are in agreement about the identity of the child’s father. The document must be signed by both parents, in the presence of each other and witnesses or a notary public.
The VAP can be completed in the hospital when the baby is born, but the father’s name is not included on the birth certificate. Once you submit the VAP to the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, you can obtain an updated version. Either party can revoke their agreement and the document if done within 60 days after signing.
Paternity Lawsuits: Without an agreement by the parties as indicated through the VAP, a person seeking to establish parentage must go to court. A paternity lawsuit goes through the following process:
- The petitioner files a petition requesting that the court determine parentage;
- The respondent has a chance to reply;
- The court holds a hearing, in which the most important evidence will be the child’s and alleged father’s DNA; and,
- The judge makes a decision after reviewing the facts.
Note that a man could file a lawsuit to prove his parentage even when there are married parents that claim the child as their offspring.
Legal Action by the Government: Another party that may have an interest in proving parentage is the US government and State of Florida, if amounts were paid to support an unmarried woman for the child. Through an administrative process or a lawsuit, officials could get a legal finding on the child’s parentage. DNA will again be the most critical evidence for the government to establish paternity.
A Central Florida Paternity Attorney Will Walk You Through the Steps
Proving parentage is important for different parties in the equation, so make sure you have qualified legal help to protect your rights. Our team at Greater Orlando Family Law is dedicated to helping with paternity cases, and we can advise you on child custody, parenting time, and support. Please contact us today at 407-377-6399 or go online to schedule a consultation.