Nearly 20 Years of Experience Guiding Parents Through the Legal System
Establishing paternity is an important step for providing your child with additional support and care. The process may seem daunting, but Attorney Nicole Benjamin has nearly 2 decades of experience behind her readying her for your case. Whether you pursue a voluntary process or a court order, Attorney Benjamin can walk you through each step. She will provide you the personalized and professional legal guidance you need to establish paternity.
When a married mother gives birth in Florida, the law assumes the child's father to be the mother's husband. However, if the mother is unmarried at the time of the child's birth, paternity must be established in one of two ways – voluntarily or through a court order.
In the voluntary case, if both the mother and alleged father mutually agree on who the child's father is, they can sign a "Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity" form. This document acknowledges that the man signing the form is the child's legal father. Note that the acknowledgement becomes final 60 days after it has been signed, after which neither parent can revoke it.
If the mother and alleged father do not agree about the child’s father, either the mother or the man who believes he is the father may proceed to court to establish paternity. Any of the following individuals or agencies can start this paternity court process in Florida:
- the child's mother;
- the man who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father;
- the child through a legal representative; or
- the Florida Department of Child Support Services.
The paternity case should be started in the circuit court for the county where either the mother or alleged father resides. The court will likely order a genetic test for the mother, child, and the alleged father. Note that a case can be started before the child's birth, but the final hearing cannot be held until after the child is born.
Note that if a paternity matter is started in court, the judge may also make orders for:
- child support;
- health insurance for the child;
- parenting time;
- decision making authority over the child; and
- payment of either party's attorney's fees and court costs.
If the judge does not issue orders for parenting time or decision-making for the child, Florida law assumes that the mother has all the parenting time and sole decision-making authority.
Reasons to Establish Paternity
The process for establishing paternity may seem like a hassle, but it is an important thing to do for you and your child. If you are a mother raising your child on your own, you and your child may benefit from a child support order established through paternity. The alleged father may also have health insurance benefits available for the child, inheritance rights for their child, and veteran benefits.
Alternatively, if you are the alleged father, you may want to share in the care of your child and have a say in matters like their education and religious upbringing. To obtain these legal rights, though, you will need court orders for your share of parenting time and joint decision-making authority with the mother. These orders cannot be obtained without establishing your paternity.
Questions? Contact Benjamin Law.
If you have questions about establishing paternity, whether you are a mother or alleged father, Benjamin Law can help you. In simpler cases, both parents may mutually agree to establish paternity voluntarily. However, if one parent is unwilling to establish the paternity of their child, the other parent may pursue a court order, which could involve a DNA test. Attorney Nicole Benjamin can better guide you through the paternity process in Florida and guide you and your child every step of the way.
Schedule an initial consultation with Benjamin Law online or at (407) 410-3850 to get started.
“Attorney Benjamin is great at what she does, I’ve used her services multiple times and always get the result I’m looking for. Very professional and very sharp at her craft. I highly recommend her services...”- David B.
“Attorney Benjamin made me feel at ease during a time I felt uncertain by communicating and keeping me informed every step of the way. Attorney Benjamin was also very thorough and very professional.”- Will
“Very professional and gets the job with integrity! If you need an attorney who will help you, I HIGHLY recommend Attorney Nicole Benjamin. I am forever grateful to her and her staff.”- Phala