Paternity FAQs

If I am not the Father, Do I need a Paternity Lawyer?

If you are an alleged father in a paternity case, it is important to challenge the assertion with experienced legal advocacy, if you believe you are not the biological father of the child. Failure to challenge paternity after it has been presumed or established could leave you open to child support obligations, even after paternity has been disproved.

Do I Have To Take a DNA Test?

It depends. If paternity has been established voluntarily, you cannot use a DNA test to challenge it, unless you can prove that you signed the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity Form due to fraud, duress or a material mistake. If your name is not on the birth certificate and you do not agree that you are the child’s father, the court or the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Program will require your DNA.

Is Paternity Established When I Sign the Birth Certificate?

Your name is listed on the birth certificate after you sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This creates the presumption of paternity that you are child’s legal father. The presumption runs for 60 days from the date of signing, during which time you may withdraw your signature. If 60 days has passed and you did not withdraw your signature, you are the child’s legal father by operation of law. You will still need to go to court to establish a parenting plan and child support obligations, especially if you and the mother are no longer getting along.

The case is more complicated if the mother of the child was married to another man at the time of the child’s birth because the husband is presumed to be the legal father and he will have to file an action to disestablish paternity in order invalidate the presumption that he is the child’s legal father before you, the biological father, can have legal rights to the child.

If a Father Does Not Establish Paternity, Is the Father Free and Clear of Child and Related Support?

If the father is married to the child’s mother, Florida law presumes that he is the child’s legal father and he is responsible for child support, even if he is not the child’s biological father. He can stop this obligation by filing a Petition to Disestablish Paternity. If the father is not married to the child’s mother, he is not recognized as the legal father until he voluntarily agrees to paternity or it is done by an administrative or court order. He will not have any child support obligation until paternity is established. However, he may be responsible for up to two years of back child support, from the date paternity is proven.

If I Find Out That I am not the Biological Father of My Wife’s Child, Can I Disestablish My Paternity?

In some circumstances you may be able to. A married man is presumed to be the legal father of any children that his wife has. If you are not the child’s biological father, you will have to file a Petition to Disestablish Paternity. You have a good chance of winning the case unless:

  • You legally adopted the child;
  • The child was conceived via artificial insemination using another man’s sperm, if conception occurred during the marriage;
  • You got married the child’s mother and assumed parental responsibility;
  • You signed an acknowledgement of paternity or consented to your name being listed on the birth certificate;
  • You voluntarily, and in writing, agreed to support the child, or;
  • You failed to submit to a paternity test as requested by a government agency.
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