Boca Raton Paternity Lawyer
Paternity establishes a legal relationship between a biological father and his child. When the issue of paternity makes the news, the story is usually about a mother trying to force a father to acknowledge paternity and support his child. Although it doesn’t make the news, just as often the father is in court suing for legal recognition of paternity so he can share in the raising of his children. The Boca Raton paternity lawyers at Wise Lieberman, PLLC are strong defenders of fathers’ rights, and mother’s rights too. Our lawyers represent mothers and fathers in paternity proceedings in Palm Beach and Broward counties from our offices in Boca Raton and Plantation, making sure the right results are obtained for the benefit of all. Find answers to your paternity questions below, and call Wise Lieberman, PLLC at 561-488-7788 for skilled, professional legal help seeking or challenging a Florida paternity determination.
How is Paternity Established in Florida?
If the parents are married to each other when the child is born, the husband will be presumed to be the child’s father. If the couple were not married at the time of the child’s birth, only the mother is the legal guardian of the child unless some affirmative steps are taken to establish the father’s parentage. This can be accomplished under Florida parentage law in one of the following ways:
- The parents can sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity acknowledging the father of the child. This form is available at the hospital and can be completed after birth. It can also be completed later and filed with the state Office of Vital Statistics. The form needs to be signed by both parents either in the presence of a notary public or in front of two witnesses. A copy of the form can be printed online from the Florida Health Department’s website.
- If the parents get married after the child is born, the husband can be recognized as the child’s legal father. This process is known as legitimation and is completed by updating the child’s birth record at the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.
- The Florida Department of Revenue can make an Administrative Order of Paternity based on genetic testing of the mother, putative (alleged) father and child. If there is a DNA match, paternity is established, and the Department of Revenue will direct the Florida Office of Vital Statistics to update the birth record by adding the father’s name to the birth certificate. The Department will then move forward to order child support from the father. This method does not grant any custodial parenting rights to the father; these would still need to be sought in court.
- A court order establishing paternity can be sought by the mother or putative father in circuit court, such as the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach or the Seventeenth Circuit in Broward County. A pregnant woman can seek a paternity court order before giving birth, and a child (through a legal representative) can also bring an action in court after birth to establish paternity. Genetic testing will be ordered in the paternity case, although other evidence can be introduced as well which tends to prove or disprove paternity.
A hearing for a court order may be an adversarial hearing, where one party is seeking to prove paternity but the other party is challenging such an order. Both parties should be represented by a skilled attorney to help them assert their rights and achieve their goals. If paternity is established, the court can order the father to pay hospital expenses and attorney’s fees as well as enter an order for the father to pay child support on an ongoing basis. The court can also include a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule that allows the father to share in the joys and responsibilities of child-rearing. If parenting and time-sharing are not addressed, the mother will be presumed to have all of the time-sharing and sole parental responsibility.
Act Now to Assert Your Rights to be a Part of Your Child’s Life
If you are a child’s father but do not yet have paternity officially determined, consider acting now to establish paternity, even if you are currently getting along with the mother and enjoying an active role in your child’s life. Without an official declaration of paternity, the mother is officially the child’s guardian and has legal parenting rights, not you. Don’t wait until the mother relocates out of state with the child, forcing you to undertake complicated legal proceedings to try and assert your right to be a part of your child’s life.
Boca Raton Paternity Lawyers are Ready to Help
For advice and assistance in a Florida paternity matter in Palm Beach or Broward County, call Wise Lieberman, PLLC at 561-488-7788 to schedule a confidential consultation at our offices in Boca Raton or Plantation. Our skilled and knowledgeable Boca Raton paternity lawyers are ready to work with you.