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What are Father’s Paternity Rights in Florida?

Best Tampa paternity & child custody attorneys in Florida.

For fathers establishing paternity in Florida is sometimes a complicated matter, particularly if the mother and father were unmarried at the time of the birth. If you are a father who was never married to your child’s mother, it is important that you know your paternal rights. On the other hand, if the child’s mother is claiming you are the father and you have reason to believe you are not, you still need sound legal advice. Below, our Tampa paternity and child custody lawyer explains further.

Understanding Paternity Rights in Florida 

Paternity is a legal action that formally establishes the biological father of a child. Establishing paternity allows a father to exercise his legal rights, while also meeting certain responsibilities. However, due to the fact that fatherhood is not always inherently obvious, establishing paternity can often be complex or not.

In Tampa, as throughout the rest of Florida, men do not have any presumed legal rights as a father unless he is married to the mother when the child is born. Unwed parents can also sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital or shortly afterwards. The Acknowledgement must be signed in the presence of a notary or two witnesses. This form legally establishes the father’s paternity.

If unwed parents have not signed the Acknowledgement, either party can file a paternity action with the court.  Even if you are legally the child’s father by signing the Acknowledgement, you will still need to file a paternity action to establish your rights as to the child, i.e., child custody and visitation, as well as decision making.

Paternity Actions Involving a Woman Married to Someone Else 

Paternity issues can become even more complex when a mother is married to another man at the time of the child’s birth. In the Sunshine State, the husband of a woman is presumed to be the legal father if the birth of the child happens while the two are still married. In these instances, signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity will not establish another man as the biological father of the child. Instead, the husband of the mother will be served with a copy of the paternity petition and will be involved in the case.

When is a Paternity Test Necessary?

If the mother and the alleged biological father cannot agree on who is the natural father, then either one of them can motion the court to order a DNA test. A paternity test, also known as a genetic test, is conducted by swabbing the inside of the child’s and alleged father’s mouth. The swabs are then sent to a genetic testing lab to determine if the man in question is the biological father of the child.

When the Paternity Test Results Are Positive

If the test results show that the man is the biological father, the parties can then move forward with other legal actions included with a paternity action, such as establishing visitation and custody (timesharing), child support and parental responsibility.  Parental responsibility has to do with making decisions as to the child, rather than with whom the child spends time.  Florida law normally recognizes shared parental responsibility, which means that both parents should have a say in major decisions affecting the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion.

The court always looks at the best interests of the child.  In some situations the court will order sole parental responsibility. For example, if there is a history of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, chronic neglect or criminal activity. etc.  Also, if the parents cannot cooperate and make decisions in the best interests of the child, and their inability to work together harms the child, the court may consider awarding sole parental responsibility to one parent to provide stability and consistency.

Our Tampa Paternity and Child Custody Lawyer Will Uphold Your Rights 

At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa paternity and child custody lawyer can help you establish paternity so you can exercise your right to decision making, child custody and visitation or timesharing, child support and more. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our experienced family law attorneys and to obtain the sound legal help you need.  Se habla Español.



All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group, P.A. provides legal services to the Florida cities including Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Hyde Park, South Tampa, Ybor City, Northdale, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Northdale, Westchase, Citrus Park, Town N Country, Thonotosassa, Lutz, Fish Hawk, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, MacDill Air Force Base and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. We will also represent DIVORCE clients in Polk, Hernando or Manatee Counties.

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