West Palm Beach Paternity Lawyers
Many parents are under the misconception that when someone is listed as the biological father on a birth certificate in Florida that this establishes a paternal relationship with the biological father. It is only when a parent seeks child support or the other parent tries to obtain parenting time with one’s child that they realize that a birth certificate does not entitle a father to legal rights or obligations as the parent of the child. If a child is born to parents that are unmarried in Florida, the person listed as the father on the birth certificate has no legal rights nor does the father have financial obligations of support imposed without a legal action to establish paternity. The only exception to this principle is if the parents sign an acknowledgement of paternity in the hospital when the child is born.
A paternity action may be filed to legally establish a parent-child relationship between the biological father and the minor child. Either the mother or the biological father may initiate this action so that the court can establish parenting time for each parent and determine the child support obligation of the father. The process of developing a parenting plan in a paternity action is similar to the process that is implemented in a divorce involving children. The court must determine the best interest of the child(ren) based on a number of statutory factors, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Proven parenting ability of each party
- Closeness of the emotional bond that the child shares with each parent
- Desirability of preserving the status quo
- The willingness of a parent to promote continuing contact with the other parent
- Ability of each parent to establish routines for the child for homework, school performance and other activities
- Records of child in school, community and home
While this is a very simplified summary, it fairly represents the type of evidence that a Florida family law judge will consider when making parenting plan arrangements in a paternity action. Every paternity case must involve the development of a parenting plan that addresses the delegation of decision making or parental responsibility, parental time-sharing, and child support.
Helping Parents Formally Establish a Parent-Child Relationship – West Palm Beach Paternity Lawyer
The father of a child born out of wedlock does not legally have legally recognized parental rights and responsibilities until a formal paternal relationship is established. The establishment of a paternal relationship via DNA testing or stipulation (i.e. written agreement) of the parties is the precursor to the formal establishment of parenting plan arrangements and financial support in the form of child support orders. Whether you are a father seeking to spend time with your child or to be informed of important decisions about your child, or a mother who needs child support to provide for the financial needs of your child, there must first be a determination of biological parentage.
There is a wide range of reasons to establish paternity that may benefit the mother, father and/or child, which include the following:
- Child knowing the identity of his/her dad
- Addition of father’s name to the birth certificate
- Ability to obtain information about family medical history
- Child’s eligibility for benefits of dad’s medical insurance
- Child support
- Child’s eligibility for veteran’s and social security benefits
- Child’s right to inherit from father
Florida paternity actions usually arise because a father wants to establish formal parenting time with his minor child; the mother is seeking child support; or the father is disputing paternity and wants a DNA test. South Florida paternity attorney James S. Cunha and his legal team fights for the rights of both mothers and fathers that want to establish parental rights, time-sharing and child support.
The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. assist clients in all Divorce and Family Law Matters throughout West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also offer legal representation to clients who reside in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Hendry, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.