Establishing or contesting paternity can have a profound effect on a child’s well-being. Paternity determines the legal responsibility a man has for his child and the financial support he must provide. Unwed parents must follow certain steps to establish or contest paternity in Florida.
Biological Father Versus Legal Father
The biological father and the legal father of the child can be the same man, or one man can be the biological father and another man can be the legal child of the father. While the biological father of the child is the man who actually fathered the child, the legal father of the child is the man who has legal rights and responsibilities for the child; regardless of whether or not he is the biological father. If an unwed man and woman have a child together, and the woman marries another man before the child is born, the woman’s husband becomes the child’s legal father.
Legal responsibility for a child can be established or disestablished by both parents, through an agency, or by a court order.
Establishing Paternity in Florida
If the parents of a child are unwed and both agree on the paternity of a child, they can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. After 60 days, the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity becomes final and the father who signed the acknowledgement is legally responsible for the child. The child’s parents cannot revoke the acknowledgement after 60 days have passed.
Paternity can also be established through genetic testing. The parents do not have to go to court for this and can get the assistance of the Florida Department of Revenue for the testing. If the man and the child’s DNA match, the man will be established as the biological father of the child and will be responsible for supporting the child; however, he will not granted parenting time.
In some cases, there is disagreement between man and woman regarding who the child’s biological father is. When this happens, the man who believes himself to be the father must file a paternity action with the court to establish paternity and have parenting time ordered.
Contesting Paternity in Florida
There may be times when the man who was told he was the biological father of a child finds out that he is not. This may happen when the mother of the child makes claims that the man is not the father, or after receiving the results of genetic testing. The father must then file an affidavit that provides evidence contradicting initial claims that he was the biological father. This evidence can include DNA results and statements made by the mother that he is not the father. The man must continue to pay child support while the petition is pending.
When granting the man’s request to disestablish paternity, the court considers many factors, including:
- Whether the man legally adopted the child
- The child wasn’t conceived through artificial insemination
- The child was under 18 when the disestablishment was filed
The court may also deny the petition if it finds that the man:
- Stated he was the biological father
- Is named as the biological father on the birth certificate
- Signed a voluntary acknowledgement
- Failed to appear in court or submit to a DNA test
Consult with Our Boca Raton Family Lawyers for Your Paternity Matters
Paternity cases can be sensitive and complex matters. Our Boca Raton family law lawyers understand the variety of legal issues involved in such cases. We have over 75 years of collective experience handling family law cases and can provide consultation for you throughout the emotional process of your case.Let our Boca Raton family lawyers help you with your paternity matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation online, or call us at (561) 336-6082.