An Overview of Paternity Establishment

March 9, 2021

Whether you’re a mother looking for child support, or a father who wants the legal right to spend time with his child, establishing paternity in Miami, FL is a key part of child support and custody cases. Since families can take a number of different forms and sizes, paternity law can get complicated quickly. Here’s a brief overview of paternity establishment from our law firm.

Why it’s important to establish paternity

Paternity determines a lot of legal rights, such as the right to child support from the biological father, the child’s right to insurance or other benefits and the father’s right to spend time with his child. It can become complicated when children are born outside of marriage, or when a couple divorces before the child is born. If both the mother and father are married to other people when the child is conceived and/or born, that can further confuse matters.

Without establishing paternity, a mother might not get financial assistance to raise her child, and the father may not get time with the child or the legal right to weigh in on decisions like medical, religious and educational options.

The difference between legal vs. biological paternity

Legal paternity gives a man rights over and responsibilities to a child, even if he is not the biological father. A biological father can become a legal father through a paternity action filed in the Florida courts. If the person establishing paternity is not the biological father, the court will decide whether it’s in the child’s best interest to stay with the legal or biological father.

How to establish paternity in Miami, FL

When a married mother gives birth in Florida, the courts assume that her husband is the father. However, not every mother is married, nor does every married mother’s child belong to her husband. In those cases, paternity has to be established. This can be done voluntarily, through signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity,” or the parties can establish paternity through court order.

If a court order is necessary, there are several people who can file: the mother, the (alleged) father, the Florida Department of Child Support Services or even the child themselves, through their own legal representative.

It’s important to work with a paternity attorney through this process, especially if your case is complicated. Your attorney will help you through the family court hearings. A genetic test will be ordered. Other issues pertaining to support and custody may be established at subsequent hearings, after the child is born. If there are no orders regarding visitation and custody, it is assumed the mother retains full legal and physical control over the child.

If, however, you can agree to voluntarily establish paternity, you will only need hearings to establish support and custody. Once the 60-day post-signing waiting period has passed, paternity is considered final, unless the father can show that they signed under fraud, duress or other extreme circumstances.

For help with your paternity establishment in Miami, FL, contact us at the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler today.

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