Under Florida law, there are two ways for a man to have rights to his biological child.
The first way is for the child to be born to the man’s wife during an intact marriage.
The second way is by Court order. Such a Court order can occur in an adoption or paternity case.
In a paternity case, either parent can seek to have the rights and responsibilities of the biological father established by Court order. Generally, a paternity case arises in two situations:
- a father trying to establish a time sharing schedule with his child
- a mother seeking child support from the father
Under Florida law, a child born to unmarried parents has only one parent – the mother. A biological father has no rights to the child – even if the biological father’s name appears on the birth certificate. A birth certificate with the father’s name is only evidence of paternity, not a determination of paternity. A biological father wishing to establish rights to his child must obtain an Order of Paternity.
Today, there are only a few limited situations where a father’s name on a birth certificate is important evidence. By far, the most useful evidence in a paternity case are the results of a DNA test.
No matter which parent starts a paternity case, either parent can request that the judge order a DNA test. Unless the father can prove that he was unavailable around the time the child was conceived (e.g. at sea, in jail, etc.), the judge will order the test.
Only two issues remain for the court to decide after paternity has been established by the results of the DNA testing.
- Child support
- Time-sharing and parental responsibility
You can find more information about both child support and time-sharing by clicking the Practice Area menu at the top of this page.
A difficult situation exists when a married mother has a child that is not the biological child of her husband. Under Florida law, a Husband is the legal father of his Wife’s children. This problem presents itself in two types of cases:
- Where a married couple wants to get a divorce and the Wife has had a child with someone other than her Husband. In this situation, the Husband does not typically want to pay child support or otherwise be a part of the child’s life.
- Where a biological father wants to establish rights to a child whose mother is married and does not want the biological father to establish any rights to the child.
If you are thinking about starting a paternity case – or if one has already been filed against you, you should strongly consider seeking the advice of an experienced Orlando paternity lawyer.