Proving paternity may seem like a technical, trivial detail in the grand scheme of things, but it can be a pivotal move if you are dealing with a family law dispute. Issues with child custody, child support, and visitation can be difficult to sort out when paternity has not been officially proven, and it can be an instrumental tool used by either the mother or the father.
When you and your ex are no longer together, whether you share parenting duties or not, it is absolutely essential that you prove paternity in order to protect your rights.
Florida Law & Paternity
Under state laws, paternity can be either biological or legal. The biological father of the child can prove biological paternity through scientific means. A simple blood test can provide the genetic evidence necessary to prove that the man in question is the biological father of the child. In most cases, the biological father will also be recognized as the legal father.
A man can be established as the legal father if he proves that he has the right to share in parental responsibilities, including visitation or child custody.
As with most states, Florida will assume that when a woman gives birth, her husband is the father and therefore has legal paternal rights. This law holds even if there is no biological proof. However, when the parents are not married, the father must prove, biologically, that he should be entitled to his paternal rights.
Protecting Your Rights as a Father
In order to exercise your rights as a father, you must take action to establish paternity. Unless you were married when your child was born, you must take it upon yourself to prove your right to legal paternity. Without paternity, you will not be able to exercise your legal rights as a father, and will, therefore, be unable to obtain visitation rights or rights to custody.
For example, if you and the child’s mother were never married and you are no longer together, she can legally obtain full custody and deny you rights to visitation, unless you establish paternity.
Proving Paternity for Child Support
Mothers might also take a keen interest in proving paternity when it comes to obtaining adequate financial support for their child. Proving paternity will not only allow the father the rights to visitation, custody, and other parenting duties, but the responsibilities that go with it. In other words, once paternity is established the mother may take legal action to press the father for child support.
Likewise, if a man is being asked to pay child support for a child who he does not believe is his, he may disprove paternity, in most circumstances, in order to stop all financial obligations.
How to Establish Paternity
In Florida, paternity can be established by any one of the following means:
- The parents are married at the time of the child’s birth.
- An unmarried couple signs an official paternity agreement, declaring the father’s rights.
- The father takes a genetic test to prove paternity.
- The mother and father go through legitimation by marrying after the child is born and going back to update birth records, thus granting paternal rights.
If the father does not submit to genetic testing willingly, the court can order a legal paternity test through a paternity action. Usually, this happens in cases where the mother pursues child support from the child’s father.
Issues of paternity and father’s rights are rarely simple, which is why it’s important to work with a family lawyer you can trust. Contact K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. today to discuss your family law issue.