Paternity contests are complex and can be emotionally draining. Fort Lauderdale paternity attorney Serena Carroll can help you navigate through the paternity process to a successful outcome.
Paternity is the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child. Typically, though not always, the legal father is also the biological father of the child. Paternity establishes a relationship between father and child, with certain corresponding rights and responsibilities.
Most paternity disputes involve a question over the identity of the father of a child born to an unwed mother. Where a child is born to a married couple, the law presumes the husband of the mother to be the father, but where a child is born to an unmarried mother, the legal father can only be identified through a determination of paternity. Paternity issues generally arise in one of two ways. First, the mother of the child may seek to establish paternity, often in order to obtain child support payments. Second, the father of the child may seek to establish paternity, in order to obtain child custody, a say in legal decisions affecting the child’s future, or rights to visitation (known as time-sharing) under a parenting plan. In some divorce cases and other rare circumstances, a father may seek to disestablish paternity in order to remove legal obligations to the child.
Paternity can be established in Florida in five different ways. Marriage when the child is born establishes paternity, and marriage after the child is born can also establish paternity if the couple updates the official birth record. A court order can also establish paternity, as can an acknowledgment of paternity, which is a legal document signed by both parents in the hospital around the time the child is born. Finally, perhaps the most familiar modern way to establish paternity is through an administrative order based on genetic testing. Genetic testing is considered extremely reliable for establishing paternity.
Establishing paternity can have significant benefits for the child. In addition to creating child support obligations, paternity also helps the child obtain a sense of identity. Paternity can be particularly helpful for the child in learning about family medical history. Paternity can also create a right for the child to obtain certain government benefits, such as Social Security and veteran’s benefits, as well as inheritance in probate cases. Children born outside a marriage are given the same rights under Florida law as those born to a married couple.
Paternity disputes can be extremely emotional. A finding of paternity can also have serious long-term consequences. Accurately determining support obligations or enforcing support obligations in the future can create ongoing issues for either parent. An experienced Fort Lauderdale paternity lawyer can assist you through the paternity process, and help you understand the long-term consequences of a paternity finding in your case. Call our office for a confidential consultation at (954) 525-2050.