When a married couple in Florida has a baby, the law presumes that the husband is also the child’s father. However, when an unmarried woman has a baby, the law does not presume that any particular man is the child’s father – even if the mother has been in a relationship with one man for a long time. In these situations, a paternity suit may arise.
Whether you are a mother seeking to establish paternity or a potential father facing a paternity suit, the case will have a significant impact on your life. That’s why the dedicated Florida paternity suit attorneys at Farah & Farah focus on handling each paternity suit with the compassion and skill born of years of Florida family law experience. These skills and years of experience can be used to inform you of your best legal options under Florida law through a free no-obligation consultation at 855-797-9899.
What Does a Florida Paternity Suit Do?
Paternity suits do more than merely establish who a child’s father is. They also establish a number of major rights and obligations, including:
- the father’s right to seek child custody and/or visitation with the child;
- the father’s obligation to help support the child;
- the child’s right to inherit from the father; and
- the child’s right to seek government support, like disability benefits, based on the father’s records.
When two unmarried parents are certain of the father’s identity, they may file a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity in Florida, which establishes the father’s and child’s legal rights and obligations to one another. When the parents are not certain, however, either the mother or the father may file suit to establish paternity. The State of Florida may also file a paternity suit if the mother receives government assistance, or a child may file a paternity suit.
Is a DNA Test Required in a Paternity Suit?
Generally speaking, a paternity suit will include a paternity test, which analyzes a DNA sample. The sample may be collected via a blood test or a cotton swab used to collect cells from the inside of the mouth. If the parties to a paternity suit refuse to have a DNA test voluntarily, the court may order them to submit to testing.
What Process Do Florida Paternity Suits Follow?
Florida paternity suits resemble other types of Florida civil lawsuits, in that they begin when one person files a complaint in court. A copy of the complaint is sent to the party it is filed against, who has a limited amount of time to respond by filing an "answer." It’s very important to file an answer within the time given, because failing to do so may mean giving up several key arguments on your behalf. For instance, a man who wishes to contest a paternity suit must file an answer denying paternity in order to preserve this argument in court.
Experienced Florida Paternity Representation
Because Florida paternity suits follow the complex rules that govern other civil cases, and because they deal with such crucial rights and obligations, it is key to choose a Florida family law attorney to help you navigate a paternity claim. To learn more about your legal options when it comes to paternity cases, contact the attorneys at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida today. Your initial consultation is free and completely confidential.