Involuntary Paternity Determinations
When a married woman gives birth to a child, it is presumed, for legal purposes, that her husband is the child’s father. The issue of paternity becomes more complicated, however, for parents who are unmarried. In these cases, it may be necessary to go through the courts to establish paternity, often against the putative father’s wishes. Establishing paternity of a child has important emotional, practical, and legal ramifications, so if you have questions about establishing or terminating paternity, consider reaching out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale paternity lawyer for help.
How is Paternity Established Involuntarily?
Fathers have the option of voluntarily acknowledging paternity after their child is born. This does not, however, always happen, in which case, the child’s mother can attempt to establish paternity on her own. When seeking to establish paternity, both parties must appear in court and attend a hearing. If, at this point, the parties agree to legal paternity, they can sign a consent form and avoid further litigation. If, on the other hand, the man continues to deny paternity, then the court will likely order him to take a DNA test. The results of this test will dictate what happens next. If the test shows a relationship between the man and the child, then the court will issue a formal order, listing the man as the child’s legal father. He will then be ordered to pay child support and could be granted visitation rights. If no genetic relationship is discovered, then the man will not be granted parental rights, nor be required to financially support the child.
What are the Consequences of a Paternity Designation?
Designating a man as a child’s father has significant legal repercussions, including the establishment of parental rights. With these parental rights comes the ability to seek visitation with the child and enter into a parenting plan with the child’s other parent. Unless it is deemed not to be in the child’s best interests, the father will also usually be granted a right to share in parental decision-making regarding the child’s religious upbringing, education, and healthcare. In addition to these rights, however, come financial obligations to provide for the child. This obligation usually takes the form of child support payments, which must be paid every month. The amount ordered will depend largely on the father’s income, as well as the mother’s income, the number of children both parties are supporting, and childcare-related expenses. A failure to pay child support as ordered can have severe repercussions, including fines, contempt of court proceedings, driver’s license suspension, and wage garnishment.
Reach Out to an Experienced Paternity Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
If you are attempting to establish that a man is your child’s father and he is not willing to cooperate in making this determination, we can help walk you through the legal processes that will be required. Call our office today at 954-945-7591 to schedule a free consultation with dedicated Florida paternity lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can also reach a member of our legal team via online message.