A paternity action is the legal process which is used to determine the legal rights and obligations that unmarried parents will have over their legal child. Child support, parental responsibility, timesharing, and other financial obligations will be addressed in a paternity case. However, before a court determines child support and parental responsibility, it must determine the issue of the child’s paternity. In other words, a legal father must be declared via a final judgment of paternity or court order. In the state of Florida, the natural guardian or the Mother has superior rights over a child until there is a determination of paternity or a legal father is established. The fact that a father is named on a child’s birth certificate does not mean that he is the legal father. A father’s name on a child’s birth certificate may be used as a presumption that he is the father. But in order to have legal rights over a child, a purported father must be established as the child’s legal father via a court order.
While a paternity case is used to establish an unmarried individual’s paternal rights over a child, there is also the possibility of disestablishing paternity. If you were declared to be the legal father of a minor child and were ordered to pay child support but have since discovered that you are not the biological father, you may have the right to disestablish paternity. In an action to disestablish paternity, you will have no further paternal rights or obligations toward the minor child. The establishment of paternity is a complex matter. If you wish to advice regarding disestablishment of paternity call to schedule an appointment today.