When you have a child, the desire to nurture and protect that child comes naturally. This is true whether you are married or not. Unfortunately, the legal issues surrounding a child born to unmarried parents can make the task of caring for that child difficult, especially if the parents separate.
Paternity, derived from the Latin word pater, means fatherhood. When a child’s paternity is not established, questions of custody and child support are difficult to answer effectively.
Fathers of children born to unmarried parents are not always guaranteed the rights—or expected to meet the responsibilities—of paternity. If the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established.
Legal action is sometimes required to ensure that fathers get the rights they are entitled to. Paternity is also a deciding factor in whether a child’s mother is able to seek child support from the father. Without legally identifying the father, there is no way to ensure that each side gets the things they need.
When you need help establishing paternity, look no further than Yaffa & Associates in Boca Raton, FL. Having explained the legal issues related to paternity to numerous family law clients over many years, we know the importance of this situation to you and your child.
We understand how frustrating it can be as a father to encounter roadblocks in your efforts to be a part of your child’s life. We also understand how important it is as a mother for you to get the financial help you need from the father of your child in order to support your child.
Having worked on both sides of the issue, we know what it takes to build an effective paternity case for you. Our compassionate approach and commitment to winning can help you weather the difficult situation a paternity issue presents. We can make sure that your voice is heard and that the facts are presented to the court.
At Yaffa & Associates, your concerns are also our concerns. As your legal advocate, it is our job to make sure that whatever struggles you face, you do so with the help of capable legal counsel experienced in the intricacies of family law in Boca Raton and all over Palm Beach County, Florida.No matter how complex your situation, we can help you emerge with the outcome you want and need.
If you need help with paternity issues, please contact Yaffa & Associates now by calling (561) 276-3880. We are ready to assist you in whatever way we can to help you determine what steps need to be taken immediately to protect your rights.
When a child is born in Florida, paternity is established automatically if the parents are married. But Florida law recognizes that the relationship between the parent and the child is not dependent on marriage. If the parents are not married when the child is born, then a paternity action may be necessary to determine the rights and obligations of the parents.
Title XLIII, Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes stipulates that “(a)ny woman who is pregnant or has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or any child” may initiate a paternity action (F.S. 742.011), but the action must be filed in the county where either the plaintiff or defendant resides (F.S. 742.021(1)).
Florida courts recognize the legal father of a child, even if he is not the biological father, as the child’s father. A legal father has all the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. If another man claims to be the biological father, he can initiate a paternity action to become the legal father.
But because Florida is not among the states that have adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, judges have discretion to decide who the legal father is, in the best interests of the child.
F.S. 742 enumerates many of the Florida state laws related to “Determination of Parentage,” including paternity outside marriage.
Paternity may be established if:
After a 60-day window in which it may be rescinded, a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity “shall constitute an establishment of paternity,” except in extreme cases (F.S. 742.10(4)).
After all parties are notified of a paternity filing, an unmarried father seeking paternity must also file a notarized claim of paternity form with the Florida Putative Father Registry maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics of the state Department of Health which includes confirmation of his willingness and intent to support the child for whom paternity is claimed (F.S. 742.021(2)).
Putative means alleged or reputed. The purpose of the Putative Father Registry is to permit a man alleging to be the biological father of a child to assert his parentage, independent of the mother, and preserve his rights as a parent. This registry also may expedite adoptions of children whose biological fathers are unwilling to assume responsibility of their child.
If there is a dispute about paternity, scientific testing (a DNA or blood test) of the putative father as well as the mother and the child may be required by the court (F.S. 742.12(1)) to determine paternity.
Scientific test results for paternity are admissible in court, and scientific results with a statistical probability of 95 percent or higher certainty of a DNA match create a rebuttable presumption that the alleged father is the biological father (F.S. 742.12(4)). Costs of paternity testing are paid in proportions determined by the court, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Florida Statute 742 also addresses paternity as it relates to artificial or in vitro insemination or donated eggs or pre-embryos as well as circumstances under which a man may disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation when he is not the biological father of the child.
Florida Courts Website, Family Law Self-Help Information — At the Florida Courts web site, you will find printable forms and other information about paternity, and resources and publications covering a wide variety of family court-related topics.
Florida Department of Revenue Information About Paternity — Provides information and brochures about establishing paternity and genetic testing in Florida, as well as multiple links to child support resources.
Paternity Statutes at the Official Site of the Florida Legislature — Log on to the Florida Legislature’s web site for the statute enumerating the state’s primary paternity laws. You can also search for other laws related to paternity and a variety of family law topics under Title XLIII, Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes.
Fatherhood in Florida — This Florida Bar Journal article, written by a Florida family court judge and published in 2010, discusses what it means to be a father under different statutes and summarizes, compares, and analyzes the current law of fatherhood in Florida, not only under the paternity statute itself, but also under the laws concerning dependency, dissolution of marriage, adoption, and others.
A paternity case may involve a number of related legal issues, including child support and child custody (time sharing). Paternity cases can be complex, especially if more than one state or another country is involved.
The family law attorneys at Yaffa & Associates have many years of experience in all types of paternity cases. We represent mothers and fathers, as well as members of the armed forces in military paternity cases.
We represent clients throughout Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, Florida, including West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, and Jupiter, and the surrounding areas.