Any woman who has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or any child can initiate an action to have paternity established. A determination of paternity not only provides a man, woman, and child with certainty regarding parentage, but it can also create rights and obligations with respect to child support and custody or visitation. Family law lawyer Lynnette A. Ensign has more than 20 years of experience representing people in Pembroke Pines and the surrounding areas. She is available to assist you in a case to establish, disestablish, or challenge a determination of paternity.Common Issues in Paternity Proceedings
The paternity of a child can be established in more than one way. Unmarried parents may sign an affidavit to have the father’s name entered on the child’s birth certificate and to acknowledge paternity. An acknowledgment of paternity is subject to a 60-day right of rescission. Once the 60-day period has passed, the acknowledgement establishes paternity as a matter of law. Thereafter, a person challenging paternity must prove in court that there was fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact in connection with the signing of the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.
Children born during a marriage are presumed to be the children of the husband and wife. Paternity is therefore not at issue unless the husband claims that he is actually not the father of one or more of the children born during the marriage. Paternity can be established through DNA testing. A court may order DNA testing upon the request of a husband disputing paternity or an alleged father of a child born out of wedlock denying paternity. A sworn statement or written declaration containing facts that show a reasonable possibility of the nonexistence of sexual contact with the mother must accompany the request for DNA testing. A court, on its own, may order DNA testing. Florida law gives full effect to final orders of paternity entered in a different jurisdiction or an affidavit acknowledging paternity signed in any other state.
A man who is found to be the father of a child has an obligation to provide financial support for the child. The father may also be ordered to pay the costs of a paternity action and the mother’s birthing expenses. The court has the discretion to enter an appropriate parenting plan, including a time-sharing agreement. If the judgment of paternity does not address a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule, the mother of the child has sole custody.
Florida law permits a man to file a petition to disestablish paternity and terminate his prospective child support obligation if he is not the biological father of a child. The disestablishment of paternity statute does not require proof of fraud or duress.
An affidavit attesting that newly discovered evidence has come to light since the entry of a child support order or a determination of paternity must accompany the petition to disestablish paternity. The petition must include the results of DNA testing indicating that the petitioner cannot be the biological father of the child. Alternatively, the petitioner can submit an affidavit affirming that he did not have access to the child for DNA testing. The court can order that the child be presented for testing. The affidavit in support of the petition to disestablish paternity must state that the petitioner is current in child support payments or that there is good cause for any delinquencies. A court is not authorized to set aside a paternity determination or a child support order if a man did any of the following after learning he was not the biological father of the child:
Married the mother and voluntarily assumed parental duties and the obligation to provide child support; Acknowledged paternity in a sworn statement; Consented to be named as the child’s father on the birth certificate; Voluntarily promised in writing to support the child; Received notice from a court or state agency to appear for paternity testing and did not appear; or Signed a voluntary statement of paternity.Consult a Pembroke Pines Lawyer to Protect Your Rights during a Divorce
The establishment of paternity can potentially create long-term duties that courts will enforce, such as those relating to child support and custody. Pembroke Pines attorney Lynnette A. Ensign provides diligent representation to individuals throughout Broward and Dade Counties. Contact us at (954) 760-7659 or use our online form to set up an appointment to discuss a family law matter.