Paternity actions legally establish the parent-child relationship as well as determine the benefits and burdens that come with parenthood. Any time a child is born out of wedlock, a paternity action is necessary to establish certain fundamental legal rights and responsibilities for both parents. Even if a man’s name is listed on the birth certificate as the “father” of a child that alone does not legally establish paternity. Thus, before a paternity judgment is entered by a court, the child’s mother has virtually 100 percent control over all the decisions involving the child, including moving away!
Although often thought of as an action brought by a child’s mother in order to legally determine child support, more and more men are filing paternity actions to not only obtain a court judgment determining that they are a child’s father, but to ensure that they are legally entitled to take a role in decision making in the child’s life through a parenting plan and to establish a time sharing schedule with the child. We used to refer to these as “custody” and “visitation.”
In Florida, an action may be brought through the Department of Revenue (DOR) on behalf of a mother against the putative (alleged) father for child support. In the absence of the putative father admitting paternity, a DNA test may be used to establish the genetic link. However, DOR is only interested in establishing paternity for a determination of child support. If the father wishes for the court to enter a parenting plan and time sharing schedule (which, by the way, can impact child support) the father must file a separate action.
So, you see, paternity actions involve so much more than merely a determining or ruling out a child’s father. Any parent or possible parent of a child born outside of a marriage, mother or father, should seek legal advice to know his or her rights and to determine how to establish these rights before acknowledging or admitting anything. The Law Office of Cindy S.Vova, P.A. assists mothers and fathers, as well as “non-fathers” in protecting their rights.