West Palm Beach Paternity Lawyers
Serving Residents of West Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie & Indian River Counties
Paternity is equated with fatherhood, which includes all legal rights and responsibilities intrinsic to becoming a father. When you establish paternity, you identify a child’s legal father, which can help a family gain access to important information such as medical history, health and life insurance, financial support, and more. For the mother, an establishment of paternity provides her with support, including child support, visitation, and custody rights, and a say regarding legal decisions that may impact the child’s life.
At Sasser, Cestero & Roy, P.A., our attorneys are highly esteemed professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience helping families navigate paternity cases with discretion, professionalism, and ease.
How Paternity Is Established
Florida law assumes a child born in wedlock is the parents. However, when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity must be established either voluntarily or though a court order. A mother and an alleged father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form under oath, which dictates that the man signing the document is the child’s legitimate father.
This acknowledgment is finalized 60 days after it has been signed and cannot be revoked after the 60-day mark. If either parent would like to revoke the paternity acknowledgement, he/she most prove fraud or a means of coercion.
The 5 Ways to Legally Establish Paternity
In Florida, there are 5 ways to legally establish paternity:
- Marriage: If a couple is legally married when a child is a born, the husband is considered the father of the child and no additional actions need be taken to establish paternity.
- Acknowledgement of Paternity: An unmarried couple can complete a legal document denoting paternity after a child is born. This can be done in the hospital or later; however, this is not a right afforded to married women.
- Court Order: Paternity may need to be established by a judge if fatherhood is disputed. A judge may require DNA testing to prove parentage.
- Administrative Order by Means of Genetic Testing: A genetic test or DNA test determines the biological father of the child. Once proven, an administrative order can be issues establishing parentage.
Legitimation: To legitimatize paternity after an unmarried couple has a child and later
gets married, to add the father to the birth certificate, the parents
must send the Florida Office of Vital Statistics the following:
- Marriage certificate
- Acknowledgement of paternity
- Affirmation of Common Child Born in Florida
Who Can Request Paternity?
For those individuals looking to establish paternity, Florida law deems the following scenarios permissible:
- A government agency looking to establish child support
- A man who believes he is the father or who is known to be the alleged father
- A child’s mother who wants to determine the legitimate father of her child
- The Florida Department of Child Support Services requests it
- A child requests paternity through a legal representative
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Filing for Paternity Actions?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a paternity action is 4 years after the child has turned 18 years old. However, it would behoove you to establish paternity as soon as possible for your child to develop a relationship with each parent.
Book an Initial Consultation with Our Firm
Establishing paternity can be a complex and sensitive matter. As such, it is imperative to refer to the counsel and guidance of an experienced attorney from our firm. Whether you are involved in a paternity dispute, need to establish paternity, or refute a paternity claim, contact our office.