Establishing and Contesting Paternity in Florida
Nothing is more sacred than the bond between a parent and child, but legal issues can sometimes get in the way. Whether trying to prove you’re a child’s parent or challenging a paternity test, it’s important to know what the law says and how it affects you. So, what do you need to know about paternity in Florida?
If you’re dealing with paternity questions, don’t go it alone. Talk to a family law attorney today to make sure you’re making the best decisions for your child’s future.
At The Bardine Law Firm, we’ve helped Florida families sort out their paternity issues for nearly two decades. Give us a call at (941) 223-7078 or contact us through our website to find out how we can help you.
The Basics of Establishing Paternity in Florida
In simple terms, establishing paternity means legally recognizing who the father of a child is. Establishing paternity isn’t just a formality – it’s a big deal, affecting everything from child custody and visitation rights to child support payments. In Florida, there are several ways to go about it, each with its own set of legal steps.
The simplest way to establish paternity is for the father to sign the birth certificate when the child is born at the hospital. Both parents can also sign a legal form called a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” to establish the father’s legal status.
If paternity is disputed or if the voluntary methods aren’t an option, you might have to go to court. Here, DNA tests are often used to confirm the father’s identity. Once paternity is established through the court, the father gains legal rights and responsibilities, such as:
- The right to seek custody or visitation
- The responsibility for child support
- Involvement in major decisions about the child’s life, like education and healthcare
If you are a father looking to take on the mantle of fatherhood – all the good and bad that comes with it – contact a local attorney today to learn what first step to take.
How to Contest a Paternity Test in Florida
Contesting a paternity test is a serious matter. Maybe you have doubts about the test’s accuracy, or perhaps you believe there’s been a mistake. Whatever the reason, challenging a test can be a lengthy, involved legal process with lots of moving parts.
Reasons to Contest:
- Inaccurate Results: Lab errors or contaminated samples can lead to incorrect test results.
- Fraud or Tampering: If you suspect that the test samples were tampered with, this is grounds for contesting.
- Legal Errors: Sometimes, the way the test was administered or processed can be challenged in court.
Legal Steps Involved in Contesting:
- File a Motion: The first step you need to take is filing a motion in court to contest the paternity test.
- Gather Evidence: Collect any evidence that supports your case, such as additional DNA tests or expert testimonies.
- Court Hearing: Attend the court hearing where both parties present their case.
- Judge’s Decision: The judge will review the evidence and make a ruling, either confirming the original test or ordering a new one.
If your process of contesting paternity is successful, it will change child custody arrangements, child support payments, and even the child’s sense of identity. Because the stakes are high, it’s crucial to consult with a family law attorney with experience helping local families through these challenging times.
New Florida Laws and Their Impact on Paternity
Florida has recently updated its paternity laws, and these changes have a big impact, especially for unwed fathers. The new laws aim to level the playing field, giving both parents more defined but equal rights. So, what’s changed, and how does it affect you?
As a result of this new law, there is one fundamental change to Florida parental rights for unwed parents – namely, unwed fathers now have the same legal rights as mothers, making it easier for them to seek custody or visitation.
How It Affects You:
- More Legal Options: Unwed fathers now have more avenues to establish or contest paternity.
- Potential for Disputes: With both parents having equal rights, disagreements are more likely to end up in court.
- Changing Legal Landscape: The impacts of the new laws are routinely being challenged and argued in court, necessitating the skilled hand of an attorney who stays up to date with all relevant information in Florida.
The new laws are a game-changer, especially if you’re an unwed father trying to establish or contest paternity. They open up new possibilities but bring with them new challenges. Given the potential for increased litigation and the complexity of the new laws, it’s more important than ever to get legal advice.
Contact A Florida Family Law Attorney Today
If you are a father on either side of the paternity issue, you shouldn’t try to take on the system alone when so much is at stake. For personalized, compassionate legal advice tailored to your situation, reach out to The Bardine Law Firm. Johnny Bardine is here to help you make the best decisions for your family’s future. Contact us today at (727) 605-7078 or through our website to learn more.