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Proving paternity and establishing fathers' rights in Florida

Unmarried parents may face a host of legal complications regarding child support, visitation and other issues. If you are an unmarried father, it may be necessary for you to take certain legal steps in order to clearly establish paternity and act upon your rights as a biological parent.

Proving paternity is just one of the steps you may need to take to have regular access to your child; therefore, you may benefit from seeking the help of an attorney experienced in navigating complex family law matters in Florida. You have the right to a strong relationship with your child, even if you were not married to the mother at the time of birth.

How and when should you seek a paternity order?

A child does not have a legal father if the parents were not married when the child was born. In order to secure your rights as a father, it is important to understand what you must do in order to receive designation as a legal parent. You may seek a paternity action at any point after your child is born until he or she reaches the age of 18.

Fathers have no legal rights if a child is born to unmarried parents, even if his name is on the birth certificate. Fathers are often surprised to learn that they can be accountable for child support payments, even when they do not have any rights to visitation or custody. If you find yourself in this situation and want to have an active role in your child's life, it will require legal action.

The rights and responsibilities of legal fathers

A DNA test is the easiest and most commonly employed method of establishing paternity. Once this process is complete and you are the legal father of your child, you can then enjoy certain rights that may include:

  • Visitation
  • Custody
  • Involvement in your child's activities
  • Decision-making authority for your child

The parenting time to which you are entitled and access to your child will differ on a case-by-case basis. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and help you secure a beneficial and sustainable custody and visitation order.

Whether a father is seeking a paternity action in order to have access to his children or a mother is seeking child support, the responsibilities of the father remain the same. Consequently, you must continue to financially support your child until he or she reaches adulthood, but by proving paternity, you can enjoy a positive and close relationship with your kids.

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Busciglio & Sheridan Law Group
3725 North Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33603

Phone: 813-302-1265
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