– Paternity Establishment –

The Eric Boles Law Firm knows that in Florida legal matters relating to paternity testing for fathers are often emotional and contentious

Eric-Boles-Law-Firm-Paternity-EstablishmentAt the Eric Boles Law Firm in Tampa, Florida we know that by its nature, Family Law often involves very personal matters. Legal matters relating to paternity testing for fathers are often emotional and contentious. In Florida, a father’s paternity rights are a factor of whether or not the father was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth.

Whether you need help legally forcing someone to take a DNA test; or you want to proof paternity, or reverse a voluntary declaration of paternity you signed, our Family Law Attorney will handle your case with compassion.

Establishing Paternity

It is important to establish paternity for your child born outside of marriage in order to ensure that he or she has deserved support and visitation. Without establishing paternity, the child’s father will not be recognized legally and will have no obligations to the child. Fathers need to establish paternity in order to have legal rights to visitation with their children.

In Florida, there are five ways to establish paternity:

  • Marriage: The parents are married to each other when the child is born
  • Acknowledgement of Paternity: The unmarried couple signs a legal document in the hospital when the child is born, or later
  • Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing: Paternity is ordered if a genetic test proves fatherhood
  • Court Order: A judge orders paternity in court
  • Legitimation: The mother and natural father get married to each other after the child is born and update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics

Many people believe that signing of the birth certificate establishes paternity, this is not always so. The signing of a birth certificate merely establishes a presumption that the man who signed is the father. However, a Petition to Establish Paternity must be filed to create or establish the parental rights of the father.

In order to establish paternity, you can file a Petition with the court. In order to file an action in Florida, the Petitioner must be a resident of the State of Florida for at least 6 months prior to filing. In the Petition, you will request that paternity (i.e. fatherhood) be determined by the Court.

The mother, father, or anyone who believes himself to be the father may file to establish paternity. If paternity has not been established and the child’s guardian or mother requests government assistance for the child (i.e. Medicaid), the State of Florida Department of Revenue may file a Petition to Establish Paternity for purposes of child support.

If both the mother and alleged father agree on the paternity of the child, then a DNA test is not required. However, if there is a dispute as to the identity of the father, then a DNA test will typically be ordered to determine the proper biological father of the child.

In order to collect child support that is due, a mother has a right to file a Petition to Establish Paternity. The father is still financially responsible for the child even though he failed to establish paternity, if he is in fact the father. The mother can file to establish paternity as long as the child is a minor. Once the petition is file, the mother has the right to request prior child support as far back as 24 months from the date of the petition.

Disestablish Paternity

Should you find out that a child is not yours, there are ways to Disestablish Paternity. In order to disestablish paternity in Florida, you must file a Petition to Disestablish Paternity with the court. There are procedures that must be strictly complied with, these are listed under Florida Statute 742.18, which explains who qualifies to disestablish paternity and what must be filed to do so.

Genetic Testing

A genetic test is a scientific test used to prove if a man is the child’s father. It is also called a DNA test. Since DNA is present in every cell in your body, we do not use needles or need blood to do the test. Skin cells are collected from the inside cheek area of the mouth. Testing works this way:

  • The alleged father, the mother, and the child are scheduled for a genetic test appointment. (Alleged father means the man believed to be the father).
  • Everyone must show up for their appointment and bring picture identification. If the child does not have picture identification, we can use a birth certificate or Social Security card for identification. Identification is mandatory to make sure the test is being done on the correct person.
  • At the appointment, we take a picture of each person being tested. The picture is used to identify the person being tested and will be sent to the lab with the DNA sample.
  • The adults to be tested will rub the inside cheek area of their own mouth with a cotton swab to get a DNA sample that the lab will use for the genetic test. The adult who brings the child to the appointment will also rub the child’s inside cheek area of the mouth with a cotton swab.
  • We seal and ship the collected samples with the photos we take to the genetic testing laboratory.
  • The laboratory compares the cells of the mother, the alleged father, and the child to get a test result.
  • The laboratory sends the test results to us about 3 weeks after the last cell sample is taken. For example: The mother and child gave a cell sample on March 4. The alleged father gave a cell sample on March 15. We will get the test results from the laboratory about 3 weeks after March 15.
  • Once we get the genetic test results from the laboratory we will send the results to the mother and the alleged father in the mail. We do not give test results (positive or negative) to anyone over the phone.

Contact a Florida Family Lawyer experienced in Establishing Paternity

Establishing Paternity, like most family law issues, can have far-reaching financial and emotional implications. When you are faced with these issues seek the counsel of The Eric Boles Law Firm in Tampa, Florida who can guide you through the legal maze of these difficult, emotionally charged paternity issues. For a free consultation with a compassionate Family Law Attorney knowledgeable on Establishing Paternity at the Eric Boles Law Firm complete the contact form (click here) or do not hesitate to call (813) 933-7700. We work closely with you and address your concerns, advise you about your rights, and provide practical litigation to achieve the most favorable outcome possible.