Paternity Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
What Is Paternity?
The definition of Paternity is the state of being someone's biological father. Florida has an entire two sections of law devoted to paternity. For a complete understanding of Florida's Paternity laws, please see Chapter 742 and Chapter 409, Florida Statutes.
For detailed information regarding your paternity case, call us at (954) 945-7221.
The Importance of Establishing Paternity
The law in Florida is clear, when a woman is married and she gives birth, the law presumes the child's father is the mother's husband, and therefore the child would be presumed to be the legal and biological child of both parents.
However, when the woman is unmarried at the time of the child's birth, a process of establishing paternity must be started, either voluntarily or through a court order. When a child is born out of wedlock (not married), the mother automatically has all the legal rights to the child and the biological father is first considered to be a “putative father”. If a putative father desires legal rights over of his child, the establishment of paternity must be started.
Florida Statute 409.256(1)(g), Florida Statutes, defines a “Putative father” as an individual who is or may be the biological father of a child whose paternity has not been established and whose mother was unmarried when the child was conceived and born.
Establishing paternity is important because the putative father may want to establish a permanent relationship with the child and have a loving bond forever. The father may be able to assist the mother by providing financial resources, such as child support, health insurance, and life insurance. Fathers may have other benefits from their employment that can assist the best interest of the child and the child would also be entitled to certain inheritance rights.
In many cases, men want to remain an active part of their child's life and putative fathers may need a paternity test as the foundation for additional court orders such as Parental Responsibility and Timesharing. The father may want joint decision-making authority with the mother or share in extracurricular activities with the mother. This means that the father and mother have an equal voice in decisions concerning the child's health care, education, and religious upbringing among other major issues. Unfortunately, a putative father cannot obtain theses order without establishing his paternity first.
How Do You Voluntarily Establish Paternity?
Putative fathers and mothers can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form acknowledging that the man signing is the child's legal father. This usually occurs at the hospital when both parents are also able to place their names on the birth certificate. When the parents sign a voluntary acknowledgment form, they are acknowledging that the man signing the form is the child's biological father and swearing under oath that the information is true. After 60 days, either party can revoke their acknowledgement claiming fraud. If the 60 days have passed, the voluntary acknowledgment of paternity becomes a legal binding document.
Now let us say there was no voluntary acknowledgment of paternity signed or the child's birth certificate does not have a father's name listed. At this point either party may file an action in court to establish paternity over the child. In Florida, anyone of the below may file an action for the establishment of paternity:
- the child's mother;
- the man who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father (also known as the “alleged father” or “putative father”);
- the child through a legal representative;
- the Florida Department of Child Support Services; and
- The Department of Revenue.
What Happens When the Department of Revenue Gets Involved?
Florida's legislature created a huge section of law created towards answering that question. Chapter 409, Florida Statutes can give you a complete guide to the Department of Revenue's jurisdiction and authority pertaining to a paternity action.
Section 409.256 (1)(e), Florida Statutes, defines “Paternity and child support proceedings” as an administrative action commenced by the Department of Revenue to order genetic testing, establish paternity, and establish an administrative support orders pursuant to Florida law. However, there are many different times these actions will be transferred to the circuit court for further litigation. There are times where the Department of Revenue may begin a paternity proceeding to establish paternity and collect child support if:
- The child's paternity has not been established yet;
- No one is named as the father on the child's birth certificate or the person named as the father is the putative father named in an affidavit or a written declaration;
- The child's mother was unmarried when the child was conceived and born;
- The department is providing services under Title IV-D;
- The child's mother or a putative father has stated in an affidavit, or in a written declaration as provided in s. 92.525(2), that the putative father is or may be the child's biological father.
If you are faced with a paternity action or have been put on notice by the Department of Revenue of a pending paternity matter, don't wait and call us today. Please know that there are very limited and time sensitive requirements that may affect your ability to be the legal father of your child if you delay.