Paternity issues can be difficult and stressful. Christine Leonard has the knowledge and experience to help you establish or contest paternity effectively. In Florida paternity is established during marriage, as a child born during marriage is presumed to be the child of the husband, or through the court system by initiation of an establishment of paternity case.

Once established, Paternity gives both the Child and the Parent certain rights. For the Child, he or she can seek access to family medical histories, relational benefits like social security and military benefits, and support and health insurance. The Parent can now seek custody and visitation with the child, child support for the care and maintenance of the child, and involvement with the legal and emotional decisions that impact the Child.

Establishing Paternity in Court

If a child is not the product of a marriage, there are 4 ways to establish paternity:

Both parties sign an acknowledgement of paternity
A genetic test establishes fatherhood
A judge provides a court order of paternity
The couple gets married after the child is born and updates the birth record accordingly

When paternity is contested, either the mother or any man who thinks he may be the father can bring a petition to establish paternity. Both parties must attend a hearing to present evidence and the judge may order genetic testing for everyone involved. If an alleged father does not participate in the proceeding, a court may enter an order that makes him the “default” legal father which will open him up to payment of a child support obligation.

A man who believes he has fathered a child out of marriage can and should file with the Florida Putative Father Registry to put his parental rights on record. To do so, he must consent to potential DNA testing and be willing to support the child.

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