"After a very long and difficult paternity judgement...when I first met Leslie, she was prepared, listened very carefully and was very sympathetic to my situation." - Avvo Review
A child’s biological father—the man who in fact fathered the child—may not be the same person as the child’s legal father. When a married mother gives birth to a child, the law in the state of Florida assumes that the mother’s husband is the child’s father. When a mother is unmarried, however, legal paternity must be established. This is done either by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or by a court order.
If the mother and the alleged father agree that he is the father of the mother’s child, then the parties can complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form to establish paternity. By signing this form, both parties are stating under penalty of perjury that the alleged father is the child’s true legal father. The completed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form becomes final and binding sixty days after it is signed. The final Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form purports to give the legal father all of the rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent. In reality, however, if the mother does not allow the father to share parental responsibility, the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form is not enough to give the father what are often known as “custody” rights to a child. If the father wants to have enforceable timesharing or parental responsibility rights, then he needs to file a Petition to Establish Paternity and Related Relief in the court.
If the mother and alleged father do not agree on paternity, then paternity can be established through the court system. An action to determine the paternity of a child in Florida can be brought by the child’s mother, the man who believes that he is the child’s father (the “alleged father”), the Florida Department of Revenue (for the sole purpose of making and enforcing child support orders), or a legal representative on behalf of the child. In a paternity action, the court can consider genetic testing evidence. If the court orders genetic testing, then the parties are generally ordered to share the cost of such testing. The court may also consider other evidence of the parties’ relationship or conduct by the alleged father that would tend to prove or disprove paternity in the case.
Once paternity is established, a child then has access to a number of benefits that are available to him or her through the father, including child support, health insurance benefits available through the father, and inheritance from the father’s estate.
Child support is a right belonging to the child, and cannot be waived by either parent. Both parents are legally required to provide support for their minor child. The establishment of child support in the state of Florida is based on a formula, called the child support guidelines. This formula takes into consideration the income of both parents, certain expenses (including health insurance and the costs of childcare), and the number of overnights that the child spends with each parent.
The attorneys at Loftus Law are available to help you prepare the necessary pleadings to establish paternity in your case and to take the necessary steps to ensure that your child obtains the child support and other benefits that he or she is entitled to. Every case is different, so please contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
"After a very long and difficult paternity judgement with 2 previous lawyers that seemed to get in the mud and run up charges ...(Leslie) was prepared, listened very carefully and was very sympathetic to my situation." - Jennifer
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