man holding his child on his shoulder

Paternity

Establishing paternity is the first step in claiming your parental rights and making important decisions regarding your role as a father. However, for those unfamiliar with family law, this process can seem complicated and overwhelming. There are several ways to establish paternity in Florida, and new fathers may be unsure about what their next step is. New mothers trying to support their children often have questions about how to establish paternity and get the financial assistance they need from their child’s father.

No matter what your situation is, working with one of the top family lawyers in Lakeland can help you avoid missteps and protect your rights as a parent. Get started now by reaching out to Darla K. Snead, P.L.

An Overview of Paternity Law in Florida

Paternity is governed by a basic set of principles and laws used in the Florida court system. Knowing and understanding these facts before you start this process can help you know what to expect. As you get started, be aware that:

  • If a child is born to a married woman in Florida, it is legally assumed that her husband is the child’s father.
  • If an unmarried woman gives birth, there is no presumption of paternity. As a result, the father does not immediately have any legal rights to timesharing or other areas of parenting.
  • For an unmarried father to get parental rights, he must have paternity established through the legal system.

Determining Paternity

There are several ways to establish paternity in Florida. When you meet with a family lawyer at our firm, we will learn more about your situation and help decide which option best suits you. Options include:

  • An administrative order after a DNA test. If the paternity of the child is in question or one party disputes the other party’s allegations, a DNA test is a conclusive way to prove or disprove paternity. If a DNA test indicates that the individual is the father of the child, an administrative order declaring paternity is an option.
  • Legal proceedings. Going through the court system to prove paternity is another option.
  • Acknowledgment of paternity. If both parents are in agreement regarding the child’s paternity, they may sign an acknowledgment that establishes paternity.
  • When a child is born to a married woman, paternity is automatically established, as the husband is assumed to be the father.

Who Establishes Paternity?

This question often arises with women who are struggling to prove paternity but are facing opposition from an uncooperative father. It is also an issue for fathers who cannot get the mother to provide the child’s DNA sample for a DNA test.

Either the child’s mother or the child’s father can file the Petition to Establish Paternity in the Circuit Court. This includes any man who believes he is a child’s father but does not have conclusive proof. This begins the legal process of proving paternity.

The Florida Department of Revenue may also try to establish paternity. They do this when a mother files for public services and either names the child’s father or does not name the child’s father. The state has an interest in tracking down the child’s father and ordering them to pay child support, since this may allow the mother and child to rely less on state resources. In this way, an order to establish paternity may be entered even if the mother does not want to get the father involved.  This may be pursued through an Administrative action or through filing an action in the Circuit Court.

What If My Child Isn’t Really My Child?

Few things are more heartbreaking than a father finding out that the child they have raised as their own is not biologically related to them. Depending on the circumstances, you may have options. Florida Statute 742.18 outlines the circumstances in which a man can disestablish paternity. You may be unable to disestablish paternity if you adopted the child in question if the child was conceived by artificial insemination, if you prevented the biological father from asserting his parental rights, or if the child is now older than 18.

This is a complicated area of family law, and if it applies to you, you should get in touch with a Lakeland family attorney as soon as possible instead of trying to figure out whether or not you can disestablish paternity on your own.

How Darla K. Snead Can Help

Establishing paternity is crucial if you want to provide the best life possible for your child. Whether you simply want to ensure that your unmarried partner has paternal rights to your child or you are in a dispute with the other parent of your child, hiring an attorney saves time and ensures that all requirements are met.

Ms. Snead brings more than two decades of legal experience to every case she takes, allowing her to take a nuanced and individualized approach to the unique circumstances of your case. She knows that establishing paternity often causes strained relationships or subjects parents to high levels of stress until the matter is concluded. When you choose Ms. Snead, you can trust that she will handle your case efficiently, professionally, and empathetically. Her goal is to move through the necessary steps as smoothly and quickly as possible so you can have paternity established (or disestablished) and begin planning for your next step.

If you use Ms. Snead’s services to establish paternity, you can also turn to her for help with what comes next: getting timesharing rights, setting up child support, and creating a parenting plan. Asserting your right to your child (or requesting financial support from the father of your child) can be time-consuming and emotionally draining, but with the right legal assistance, you can get through this process promptly.

Take the First Step and Contact Us Now

If you’re ready to find out what your options are regarding paternity, Darla K. Snead, P.L. is here to help. Contact our team now to set up a consultation and protect your rights. You can reach us online or call our office to schedule a meeting. We look forward to helping you.

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