Paternity

Diligent West Palm Beach Family Lawyer

Sometimes, there may be a question about whether or not you are a child’s father. You will want this question answered before child support or custody proceedings. Alternatively, if you are certain you are a child’s father, you may want to establish that you are the natural parent and properly execute a parenting plan or custody arrangement. In either situation, a West Palm Beach family attorney can help you determine paternity. My name is William Wallshein, and I have spent most of my 30+ year legal career as a family lawyer helping clients in negotiating and settling their family law matters.

Establishing Parental Responsibility in Florida

Paternity may be established by two methods under Florida law. The first is through marriage. If a child was born during a marriage, he or she is presumed to be the husband’s child. The second way is established in court. Parents may file an Establishment of Paternity action in a Florida court. Once paternity is established, a child and his or her parents have certain rights, including a child’s right to receive financial support and health insurance from the parents, and access to family medical history information. In addition, the child’s parent gain legal rights to decision-making power, child support, and custody or visitation.

If a child is not born during a marriage, paternity can be shown in court. The court establishes paternity in multiple ways, including:

  • Signed agreement by both parties acknowledging paternity
  • Genetic test establishing the father
  • Court order by the judge
  • Providing an updated birth certificate to the court when parents are married after the child is born

The mother of a child or any man who believes he may be the father may bring a petition to establish paternity in court. A hearing is then set where both parties are required to present evidence regarding paternity, and where genetic testing may be required. Where an alleged father ignores court summons or otherwise declines to partake in legal proceedings, the court may deem him the “default” legal father. This means he will be required to pay child support if the mother requests.

If a man thinks he may be the father of a child, he may file a petition with the Florida Putative Father Registry. The registry records his parental rights, ensuring he will be contacted if the child is placed in adoption proceedings. The registry requires the alleged father to submit to genetic testing and state a willingness to support the child.

By contrast, a man who believes he was wrongly named as a child’s father, either as default or otherwise, may file a petition to contest paternity in court. Under Florida statute, you may either rescind your signature on the child’s birth certificate within 60 days of birth or provide DNA test results establishing that you are not the father. The petition to contest paternity must include an affidavit from the father stating he is not the child’s biological father. It must be served on the child’s current legal guardians, along with the evidence he is using to support the allegation.

Legal Representation in Palm Beach Gardens Paternity Cases

Whether you need to establish paternity to get parental rights or wish to contest a declaration alleging you are a child’s father, you should consult someone with the experience needed to help you. My name is William Wallshein, and I am a Palm Beach Gardens family lawyer who has practiced law for over 30 years. I serve clients in Palm Beach, Martin, and Broward Counties as well as throughout South Florida. Please call my office at 561-533-1221 to schedule a free initial consultation, or contact me on this site. We accept credit cards.