Paternity – Child Support and Timesharing
Parenting brings many pleasures as well as responsibilities. When parents are married to each other when the child is born, paternity is not typically an issue. However, when a baby is born to unmarried parents, paternity is not definite until it is established legally. If both parents agree, they can sign a form called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This form, once properly completed and notarized, must be submitted to the court. If parents are not able to agree as to this solution, either parent may take the matter to court to establish paternity.
The mother, alleged father, a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Support Services may start the legal process of establishing paternity. The process begins by filling out and filing a petition to determine paternity. When a case is started the court will order DNA testing for the mother, father, and child. In a situation where the child is not yet born, the case can be started but cannot be completed until after the birth. Once paternity is established the court may also make decisions regarding other issues such as custody, child support, visitation, and health insurance.
Paternity Rights and Responsibilities
Both parents have the right to spend time with their children, unless there is some situation preventing it. In addition to spending time with the children, parents are able to make important decisions regarding such things as medical care, education, and religion. Additionally, both parents must provide for their children. Under Florida law, when a paternity case is settled in court the judge has the ability decide issues related to custody and visitation. If these are not part of the order the mother has full legal custody of the child. For this reason it is important for fathers to take part in these proceedings and gain visitation and the ability to make decisions for the child.
Child Support and Timesharing
Once paternity is established it comes with obligations by both the mother and father. Child support and timesharing are two separate issues that must be resolved either by the agreement of the parties or by order of the court. A Parenting Plan must be filed in all cases involving children. Furthermore, it is important to initially set up a timesharing arrangement that allows both parents time to spend with the child, as modification of a timesharing schedule may be difficult once a final judgment is entered.
With today’s technology, paternity can be more easily established and is less likely to be wrong. Sometimes, fatherhood may be disputed. When this occurs it is usually necessary to seek guidance from a qualified paternity attorney. The court requires DNA testing be done according to strict standards and if not properly followed, the case could become lengthy and expensive. If you are not certain that you are the father of a child it is best to find out as soon as possible. You will be required to respond and provide proof in court, if the mother disputes that you are the father. These issues can be complex and emotional so they are best handled quickly and as early in the life as possible.
If you need to establish paternity or defend claims of paternity it is helpful to seek guidance from a qualified attorney. Contact the Tampa divorce and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+