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Paternity Lawyer in Daytona Beach

Paternity is a legal adjudication to establish a parental relationship between a father and a child. When a married woman gives birth in Florida, the law assumes the mother’s husband is the father of the child. If the mother is unmarried when the child is born, paternity must be established. This can be done voluntarily or through a court order.

How Is Paternity Established?

There are two ways to establish paternity in Florida if the parents are not married when the child is born:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity: If both the mother and father agree on who the child’s father is, they can sign a form, acknowledging that the man signing is the child’s father and stating under oath that this is true. This form is called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. It becomes final 60 days after both parents sign it, at which time it cannot be revoked by either parent.
  • Court order: When there is no Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, either the mother, the father, a legal representative acting on behalf of the child, or the Department of Child Support Services may establish paternity through the court. Genetic testing will be ordered by the court for the mother, child, and father.

What Genetic Testing Is Done to Establish Paternity?

When paternity is not voluntarily acknowledged, DNA testing is administered by the court. It may be an inclusive DNA test that shows the likelihood of the man being the child’s father, or an exclusive test that shows how likely it is that the man is not the child’s father. Both types of testing require DNA samples from the mother, father, and child. All three sets of DNA are compared for similarity in a genetic testing lab, and the findings are reported to the court.

Can Other Matters Be Addressed in a Paternity Case?

Family law judges have authority to make decisions in paternity cases. In addition to establishing paternity, the court may issue orders regarding child support, health insurance, parenting time, decision making authority, and payment of attorney fees and court costs related to the paternity matter. Under Florida law, if there are no court orders regarding parenting time or decision making for the child, the mother is assumed to have sole decision making authority and all the parenting time – full custody.

What Are the Reasons for Establishing Paternity?

Either the mother or the father may have valid reasons for establishing paternity of a child. The mother may want child support to benefit both herself and her child. The father may be able to provide health insurance benefits, government benefits, or an inheritance for the child. The father may want to establish paternity to be involved in the child’s life. If the parents are not married, and possibly not on good terms, court orders can help ensure the father has his share of parenting time and joint decision making authority with the mother.

Does the Father Owe Back Child Support When Paternity is Established?

Establishing paternity entitles the father to parental rights and responsibilities. A father’s rights will include visitation with the child, and his responsibilities will include child support. When child support is ordered by the court, the father is responsible for any back support payments that have not been paid since the birth of the child. The older the child is when paternity is established and court orders are issued, the larger the amount of back child support will be.

For skilled legal assistance with paternity matters, contact Politis & Matovina at (386) 333-6613. We can explain your rights and options under the law and develop a strategy to help you achieve your goals.

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