Fort Lauderdale Paternity Attorneys
In Florida, establishing paternity can be a complex and time-consuming process. If a mother is married when the child is born, it is presumed that her husband is the father. If the mother is unmarried at the time of the birth, however, paternity must be established by the alleged father, a process that can be either voluntary or court ordered. Establishing paternity requires a thorough understanding of various custody-related laws, so if you are interested in pursuing a paternity determination, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale paternity attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.
When both a child’s mother and father agree on paternity, they can complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which confirms that the man signing is the father of the child. Completion of the form requires both parents to swear under oath that the man is biologically the child’s father. The acknowledgement of paternity becomes final two months after the form is completed and is irrevocable unless it can be established that either parent signed under duress.
In Florida, there are a number of parties who can bring a lawsuit seeking a determination of paternity, including:
- The alleged father;
- The child’s mother;
- The child, as long as he or she has a designated legal representative from the Florida Department of Child Support Services; or
- A Florida Circuit Court.
When one parent refuses to acknowledge paternity, the parent seeking a determination of paternity must sue the other party. After a paternity suit has been filed, courts order genetic testing to confirm whether a man is a child’s biological father. Although paternity proceedings can be initiated before a child is born, the final hearing determining paternity cannot take place until the child’s birth.
During proceedings to establish paternity, judges may also decide a variety of related issues, including:
- Child support awards;
- Parenting time;
- Designation of a child’s health insurance;
- Establishment of which parent has primary decision making authority over the child; and
- Attorney’s fees or court costs.
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity can benefit all parties involved. For instance, when paternity is established, a mother can request court-ordered child support. Additionally, children may be eligible for coverage under their fathers’ health insurance policies and may be able to inherit upon their fathers’ deaths.
The establishment of paternity can also have a significant impact on the division of decision-making authority on issues concerning a child’s well-being. Courts may also need to establish visitation rights to ensure that a father is able to visit his child on a regular basis. Aside from the financial benefits of an official establishment of paternity, a father’s involvement in a child’s life can also have an important influence on his or her emotional development.
Work with Joyce A. Julian, P.A., in Your Florida Paternity Matter
Establishing paternity can have far-reaching and important consequences, so it is important to have the advice of an experienced Fort Lauderdale paternity attorney who can ensure that a child’s best interests are protected. If you need help navigating the law surrounding paternity determinations, please contact Joyce A. Julian, Attorney at Law, at 954-467-6656, to schedule a consultation.