It is important for men who want to acknowledge and protect certain rights to their children to file a paternity action. Once paternity to your child has been established, the court can grant you rights regarding custody, visitation, and child support.
Who can file a paternity action?
In Florida, a paternity action may be filed by (i) any woman who is pregnant or has a child, (ii) any man who has reason to believe he is the biological father of a child, or (iii) any child who has not had his or her paternity established.
Even if your name appears on your child’s birth certificate, it does not legally establish that you are the biological father of your child, but it can be used as evidence of paternity. To have legal paternity established, a paternity agreement must be executed by both parties, or the court must enter a ruling.
If you believe that you are not the biological father of the child and the mother is seeking child support from you, a paternity action can be filed to contest a child support order. In this type of action you, the mother and the child will most likely be required to submit to a DNA test to determine whether you are the father or not. If the DNA results demonstrate that you are not the child’s father, you will not be required to pay child support. If the paternity is established by your DNA test, you will have certain legal rights as a father.
Legal Paternity vs. Biological Paternity
Whether or not you are the biological father, you can be the legal father of a child. A legal father has the same rights and obligations of and to the child as a biological father.
If your child was born while you were married to the mother, you will be presumed to be the child’s father. This is true even if your wife was having an affair while you were married. If the other man believes that he is the biological father of the child, he must bring a paternity action in order to become the child’s legal father.
Paternity must be established before child custody, visitation, or child support matters can be decided. For help in establishing paternity or fighting an erroneous allegation of paternity, call The Men’s Divorce Law Firm to schedule an appointment.