Parents have rights and obligations regarding their children. Unfortunately, many people aren’t well-acquainted with the laws regarding child support, visitation, and custody, but those rights stem from a finding of paternity. At The Wheeler Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to understand laws governing paternity, but we’re here to help. We understand that everyone is faced with a unique situation, and as such, you need a family law attorney who can adapt and understand your point of view.
Why is Paternity Important?
Establishing paternity is important for everyone: the mother, the father, and the child, and even grandparents under certain circumstances. For a mother, establishing paternity means you’ll be able to seek child support from the father. Child support is almost always needed to provide care for the child, especially if you work long hours and need to hire a caretaker. Having access to the father’s health information is also important for raising a child.
For a father, establishing paternity is important if you want to have certain legal rights like visitation or if you want to pursue custody. These matters will not be considered unless the court first recognizes the father’s paternity.
The child can benefit from a finding of paternity. By knowing who the father is, the child may be able to receive state and federal benefits like Social Security benefits, and the child may be able to gain access to health information. Additionally, most people believe that children who grow up knowing who both parents are will be better adjusted in life.
How is Paternity Established?
In Florida, if the mother and alleged father agree on who the child’s father is, they are able to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. By signing this form, both parents are swearing under oath that the information is true. Sixty days after they are signed, they will be finalized, and after this time, neither parent will be able to revoke it.
In a case where there is no voluntary acknowledgment, any of the following will be able to start the court process.
- The Florida Department of Child Support Services
- The child through a legal representative
- The child’s mother
- The man who believes he is the father or is the father
Why Should You Contact a Lawyer?
If you’ve decided that establishing paternity is in your best interest, you’ll need an experienced family lawyer to walk you through the process and represent you. Like any part of family law, paternity law can be complicated, and without the help of a legal expert, you may not even know where to begin. Give us a call today to get started at (850) 613-6923.