Your child is the most precious part of your life. If a paternity question arises, you’ll need the guidance and sound advice of an experienced Boca Raton paternity lawyer with specialized knowledge and experience to help you through a confusing and often difficult process. As a father, if paternity is not established, you could lose your parental rights including timesharing and decision-making rights. If you are denied your basic rights as a father, your child and your relationship could be irrevocably harmed. Don’t let that happen; instead, call Lewert Law in Boca Raton as quickly as possible. Attorney Tina L. Lewert, Esquire, is a Florida Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law who understands Florida paternity laws and who will aggressively fight to protect you and your child in a paternity action.
THE BIOLOGICAL FATHER’S RIGHTS
In most cases, it is in the best interest of a child to have both of his or her biological parents involved in the child’s life. With the exception of an unfit parent (i.e. physical or emotional abuse, drug abuse, mental problems, etc.), children benefit more when both parents take an active role in the upbringing of that child. Unfortunately, problems arise when children are born out of wedlock because the biological father may not have legal rights to his child.
The law does not recognize the biological father as having legal rights with regard to the child unless the father is married to the mother at the time of the birth of the child or the father’s name is added to the birth certificate. It is not right that a biological father is not permitted to be a part of his child’s life simply because he does not have legal custody of the child because he is not married to the mother and his name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate. However, Florida paternity laws do provide a means by which the biological father can establish paternity so that he can have the same opportunity to bond with his child that the mother does.
WHY IS PATERNITY IMPORTANT?
The state of Florida recognizes the father of a child, who is born to a married woman, to be her husband. When the mother is unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, paternity must be established, either voluntarily or through a court order. A “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity can be established when the mother and alleged father agree on who the child’s father is. The parents are stating, under oath, that the man signing the form is indeed the child’s biological father. There is a 60 day holding period and after that neither parent can revoke it. To ensure that both parents enjoy their full parental rights under Florida law, paternity sometimes must be legally established. Under Florida law, the child’s mother, the man who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father, the child through a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Support Services can start the court process to establish paternity. In Florida, legal paternity may be established by:
- Being married to the child’s mother when the child is born
- Signing the child’s birth certificate when or after the child is born
- Marrying the mother and updating birth records at the Florida Office of Vital Statistics
- Obtaining genetic testing
- A judge’s order establishing legal paternity
Unless legal paternity is established by one of these methods, you may need to file a lawsuit to establish your paternity; if the mother resists or disputes your paternity action, you must be represented by a family lawyer who fully understands paternity cases and who aggressively advocates on behalf of clients. Ms. Lewert also represents men falsely accused of fathering a child and men in divorces involving adultery when the paternity of an unborn child is in question. You can be certain that Lewert Law will handle your paternity matter with professionalism, diligence, and respect.
ISSUES IN PATERNITY CASES
In any Florida paternity proceeding, these three issues will be considered:
The best interests of the child: In a divorce that involves children, Florida family law puts the best interests of the child or children above all other considerations in the case, and all decisions are based upon what the court believes are in the child’s best interests.
Child support: Florida child support guidelines indicate what amount should be paid each month, although either parent can request to have the guideline amount reasonably raised or lowered. The final sum is determined by the income of the parents, health insurance and child-care expenses, and the time-sharing agreement. In Florida, child support is a child’s right, not a parent’s, so child support cannot be negotiated to gain a benefit for a parent. Even when parents reach a child support agreement, a judge may reject the agreement if it strays too far from the guidelines or if it does not serve the best interests of the child.
Parenting plan: A parenting plan spells out the relationship between parents and their child, parental responsibility, and a time-sharing schedule. Florida law presumes that, in most cases, shared parental responsibility is in the best interests of the child. If either parent believes that the child’s best interests would be better served by restricting the other parent’s contact with the child, sole custody may be requested. A parenting plan must also include a time-sharing schedule that indicates when and how much time the child spends with each parent.
If you are a father who needs to establish legal paternity in south Florida, if you are divorcing, or if you are involved in any child custody, child support, or visitation dispute subsequent to a divorce, seek reliable legal help at once and contact an experienced Boca Raton family law attorney as quickly as possible.
TOWARD A BETTER FUTURE
Tina L. Lewert is an expert Boca Raton paternity lawyer who understands the emotional nature of paternity issues as well as the need for confidentiality. At Lewert Law, we explain your options, protect your rights, and help you take the appropriate legal steps toward a better future for yourself and your children. We invite you to schedule an appointment by phone at 561-220-0123 or by e-mail through this website to discuss your needs, options, and legal rights as quickly as possible.