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Paternity in Florida


When parents end a relationship, it is important that children continue to have a relationship with both parents and that each parent is aware of their rights and obligations. Issues related to children are complicated even under the best of circumstances. However, they can be even more so when the parents are getting divorced, separating, or were never married. Establishing paternity is exceedingly important, especially in cases where the parents were never married to each other. In these cases, sometimes one party or the other denies paternity and the other party has to take extra steps to establish paternity and to assert their rights and those of the minor child.


Establishing paternity is important for several reasons. Unless one parent is unfit, it is almost always ideal for a child to know and to spend time with both parents as this has an impact on the child mentally and emotionally. Co-parenting can provide each parent with the assistance and support that they need to raise a child and allow each party to be part of their child’s life. Additionally, there might be health or medical concerns that might surface. Once paternity is established, it allows the father to exercise certain rights such as spending time with the child and getting to participate in major decisions such as education and health care. Establishing paternity also creates obligations such as child support and contributions to the costs of extracurricular activities and uncovered medical expenses.


Florida law creates a presumption of paternity when a mother is married to the father of the child and the father is a person who is biologically a male. In other words, if a mother is married to a biological male at the time that a child is born, the law will presume that that biological male is the father of the child unless one party objects. In the event of a subsequent divorce, all issues related to the children will be determined either by agreement between the parties or by a judge and will be set forth in a parenting plan. These plans are often complex and comprehensive, and they address a myriad of issues related to the child, including but not limited to, time-sharing and child support.


In the event that the mother and father are not married, this can complicate the issue of paternity as there is not a presumption of paternity. In these cases, paternity must be established a different way unless both parties agree on the issue of paternity. If both parties agree, the father can be listed as such on the birth certificate and both parties can execute an acknowledgment of paternity document.


In the event that the parties do not agree as to paternity, paternity can be established through other means such as DNA testing.


Once paternity has been determined, steps can be taken to determine and establish all of the rights and obligations that each party has regarding the child. Though there are a variety of issues, the primary issues are almost always the same any other case involving a child: who will make the major decisions regarding the child, what the time-sharing schedule will be, and the child support that one party will pay to the other party.


If you are experiencing a paternity issue, it is important that you have an attorney to assist you with your paternity case.

CONTACT US today to schedule your CONFIDENTIAL consultation with one of our Tampa Family Law Attorneys! Our offices are located in Tampa and are convenient to New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and the Greater Tampa Bay area.

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