A child born to a married couple, even if separated, is presumed to be the legal child of the married couple. This is so even if the separation has been long term and even if the child’s birth certificate provides  otherwise. However, the birth of a child to an unmarried mother provides a very different legal result. In  this case the mother alone is the full legal parent of the child under Florida law. The father must establish legal paternity to be considered a full legal parent. Having a father’s name on a birth certificate and even having a mother who verbally agrees to fatherhood is not sufficient to establish full legal rights between the father and child. What is needed is a concluded paternity action.

Formally establishing paternity brings both benefits and burdens. Time-sharing rights, government benefits and rights of inheritance are just a few of the issues affected by formally establishing paternity. Child support is also typically established during a paternity action. Often it is the father who makes the legal request by initiation the action.

The non-financial portions of most paternity actions are uncontested. If there is a dispute concerning paternity, modern science has the answer. In most cases, paternity tests are more than 99% accurate and cost less than $1,000.

Timing can be crucial to the filing of a paternity action. Besides the obvious benefits to both parent and child of establishing a full legal relationship as soon as possible, other issues can also be affected. Pre-paternity child support can accrue, children can disappear, and post birth romantic relationships can complicate matters, to name just a few of these potential issues.

If you are the mother of a child born out of wedlock who wants their child to have a fully legal father and/or who wants support for your child, then a paternity action is what you need. If you are a father who wants full legal rights to your child born out of wedlock, then a paternity action is what you need. Fathers can then ask for time-sharing (majority or minority time) and ask for most other rights that are available to a full legal father.

S. David Anton, Esq. of the Anton Legal Group has been analyzing, negotiating, mediating and litigating paternity cases in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years. Most have been uncontested, but not all. Mr. Anton knows the law and the procedure to fight for your and your child’s paternity rights, even in unique circumstances.