The court determines the legal father of a child. This may or may not be the biological father of the child.
To make the paternity determination, the court considers factors such as:
1. Marriage of the mother
2. Birth Certificate
4. And most important of all, "The Best Interest of the Child"
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Additional Paternity Details
If you and another person share a child (or children) and are no longer together, it is best to have the court sign an order establishing a time-sharing schedule and child support. This will aid you and the other person in moving forward in raising and supporting your child (children). If you were never married, the process to do this is called a paternity action.
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Under Florida law, if the parties are not married at the time the child is born, paternity is necessary to guarantee the father his rights under the law (as well as child support obligations). If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he is presumed to be the father, so testing is likely not necessary. If the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, then DNA testing will be ordered. However, a paternity action is still needed to establish a time-sharing schedule and child support.
The biggest pro of getting paternity established is having legal rights to the child, if you are the father. Until paternity is established, the man does not have any legal rights to the child (meaning a right to visit with the child or participate in any decision making involving the child). Another pro of having paternity established is if you were previously put on a child support payment plan (yes, you can be ordered to pay child support even if paternity has not been established if you were on the birth certificate and are therefore the biological father), you can possibly have the child support modified based on the amount of visitation that you have with the child (child support is calculated using a formula which takes into consideration income of both parties, as well as the amount of time that each party spends with the child).
Typically, the entire process will take about 6 months.
In Florida, courts can make decisions about child support, custody, visitation, ability to travel and many other aspects of a child's life. Depending on your legal parental status, you may be able to influence the court's ruling if you have first established legal Paternity over the child. We specialize in Florida Paternity Law and with that, understanding Paternity rights and claims can make the difference. So let us help you understand your Paternity Action.
What you need to know