Paternity cases can cover a large range of issues, including biological versus legal parenting, visitation, custody, and much more. Marquez-Kelly Family Law knows that paternity issue resolution needs to have the child or children’s best interests put first for optimal outcomes of all parties involved. Childhood stability in parenting is important in developing a positive pattern in the child’s growth to adulthood. Many times, this stability comes from a mutual understanding between both or all parents involved in the child’s life. Mellany Marquez-Kelly can help negotiate this settlement between parents, keeping all contact between parents and opposing attorneys civil while working in the best interests of the child / children.
Both financial and emotional health are key components for successful paternity resolution. Either of the birth parents can petition the Circuit Court for paternity acknowledgement. Paternity acknowledgement can help either parent. If the father wants more parenting time or wants to have the custody arrangement modified for his benefit, paternity establishment is necessary. In the state of Florida, the law assumes that if a child is born to a married woman, the husband is the father. In the event that the mother is single, paternity can be established in the hospital when the child is first born. Simply having a name on the birth certificate, however, does not establish paternity. After the child is born, paternity can be established either by way of a court order or voluntarily. If done voluntarily, both the mother and the father can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form that specifies the understanding that the man is signing as the child’s legal father. Either parent has the right to revoke the form up to sixty days after signing. After the sixty days are up, the form is henceforth legally binding. If paternity is established by way of a court order, the court will order a genetic test to be taken by the mother, child, and father in question. This order can be sought by the potential father, the mother, the child through a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Support Services. In the event that the case is presented before the birth of the child, the genetic testing will be ordered, but the testing will not be completed until after the birth of the child.
Importance of Paternity Acknowledgement
Paternity is important to be established for many reasons, one of them being financial. The establishment of paternity can be used for the mother to receive child support for any child she shares with the established father. In addition to child support, the established father may be able to assist with personal health insurance benefits or other governmental support, such as disability or military benefits, if applicable. Additionally, the child would also have a legal right to inherit the estate of the father. Other than financial reasons, the establishment of paternity is important for visitation rights and the upbringing of the child. Mothers and fathers are increasingly realizing the importance of a child having both parents in their life. Subsequently, both parents have a right to raise the child the way they see fit. If the potential father wishes to formally contest factors affecting the child’s life, such as religious decisions, education, health decisions, etc., paternity must first be legally established. Paternity must also be established if the father wants to apply for more visitation time with the child.
Biological and Legal Father
Paternity is also a major factor in the distinction between a biological and legal father. A biological father is the man who physically fathered the child, while a legal father is classified as the man with legal rights and responsibilities towards the child, established by marriage, adoption, or court order. In many cases, the biological and legal father are one in the same. For instance, if the mother and father are married and both parented the child, the husband is both the biological and legal father of the child. In the event that the parents are not married, the man is only the biological father until paternity is established by court order, in which case he will also become the legal father. If the mother becomes married before the birth of the child, the husband will be established as the legal father regardless of who the biological father is. The man may also be declared the legal father of the child if he marries the mother after the birth of the child through a process called legitimization.
In the case that the mother and father are never married, and the father denies any responsibility for the child, establishment does not necessarily have to be done through the courts. In this scenario, the Florida Department of Revenue can help the mother and alleged father in completing a genetic (or DNA) test. If the test shows a positive match between the father and child’s DNA, the Department of Revenue will then issue an Administrative Order of Paternity to add the established father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. Even though this order was not issued by a judge, it is still legally binding. If paternity is established this way, it is cheaper and less time consuming for both parties involved. The biggest difference between establishing paternity through this route and going by way of court order is that he father cannot use it to seek visitation or other legal parenting rights. The mother, however, can be allowed to collect child support.
Mellany Marquez-Kelly understands that paternity issues are sensitive, time consuming, and often very confusing. She knows how important is it for the child/children to have both parents in their life and be financially supported enough to grow up in a physically and mentally healthy environment. She will be there to guide you through the complicated process of establishing paternity with care and sensitivity in order to provide the best possible outcome for you and your child. With Marquez-Kelly Law, you will quickly realize there is no need to hesitate about going after what is in the best interest of you and your child.