A paternity action takes place when a child is born to parents who are not married. A paternity case commonly arises in the following ways:
- by a mother seeking child support from the father.
- by a father trying to establish visitation with the child.
When a child is born to unmarried parents, the mother, by statute, is the guardian of the child. Basically, a father has no rights even if his name appears on the birth certificate. In fact, with a few exceptions, an unmarried mother can give her child up for adoption without the biological father’s knowledge or consent.
A father must be declared by the Court to have any rights (i.e. custody or visitation) or obligations (i.e. child support) regarding the child. If either parent has any question as to whether the father is the actual biological father, a DNA paternity test must be requested and ordered by the Court. If both parents agree that the father is the biological father, then no test is needed.
Once paternity has been established (by agreement or positive DNA test) only 2 issues remain:
- time-sharing (visitation)
- child support
Additional information about time-sharing and child support can be found at their respective links under the Practice Areas menu at the top of this page.
If a paternity case has been filed against you, or if you would like to start a paternity case, you should consult with a Paternity Lawyer in Jacksonville FL.