Establishing Paternity

Orlando Attorneys for Establishing Paternity

Establishing Paternity

Just because a person’s name is on a birth certificate does not make him a legal father of the child.  Even if a person has signed his name on a birth certificate, he is not automatically the father of the child.  If the parties did not subsequently marry one another, the child’s legal paternity is in question.

As the numbers of marriages decrease there is an influx of paternity cases.  These claims can be brought by the Mother of the child or the putative Father.  Until paternity is established, the putative Father has no rights to see his child.  That is not to say that denying timesharing to someone you know is the Father will not have adverse consequences in the future.

A petition for paternity alleges that the Mother and the putative Father engaged in sexual relations in the requisite time period for there to be a reasonable belief that the putative Father is the biological father.  If this is not agreed to, a genetic test can be requested (no blood draw is necessary) to determine paternity.

Paternity, once established, carries with it certain rights (such as the possible right to have timesharing with the minor child and to be active in decision-making regarding the child if this is in the best interests of the child) and responsibilities (possible exposure to child support and retroactive child support to the birth of the child not to exceed two years).  These responsibilities will exist even if the Father is denied timesharing or other rights regarding the child.

Child Custody and Support Issues

Child support is calculated based on the parties’ incomes and timesharing schedule with the child.  The starting point is to determine the net incomes of the parties (before life expenses are taken into consideration).  The amount of money needed to raise the child is then determined by the number of children when compared to the two parties’ totaled net income.  The payor’s child support is then calculated based upon what percentage his or her income is of the total combined income.  Two other expenses taken into consideration are health insurance costs and daycare/child care costs.  The courts can then order a deviation from the guideline by up to 5% in certain circumstances.

The child support calculation is further complicated by reductions when there is substantial timesharing.  As Florida  now defines substantial timesharing as over 72 overnights a year (20% of overnights as compared to the old rule of 40%), it has become increasingly common for there to be a downward modification for substantial timesharing.

Parties are not allowed to waive child support as it is support for the child. If the parties enter into such an agreement the Court can reject the agreement or set it aside.

In paternity cases, child support can be awarded retroactively to the date of the birth of the child (up to 2 years).