Florida Custody Lawyers must, from time to time, deal with issues of paternity within the courts. These disputes are never something to be taken lightly, and they can (and do) become contentious due to the nature of the dispute itself. Some men will dispute their paternity of a child that they do not believe is theirs, still others will petition the courts to have a child’s DNA established because they believe a child might be theirs. As I’ve said, these cases are never easy and almost always become highly emotional, regardless of the outcomes.
I work with men who have found themselves in a situation of unresolved paternity so that they might have some form of closure in regards to the existence of a child that may or may not be theirs. For those who wish to not only establish paternity, but also win the right to assist in the parenting of a child I will work with you to not only petition the courts for testing that can prove your paternity, but also to negotiate your rights to access.
For those who are on the opposite end of the spectrum, where perhaps they feel as if they are responsible for the well-being of a child that is not theirs, they can naturally feel taken advantage of and heartbroken. As your Florida lawyer I can advise you of your rights in this situation, but I also try to help you work through your initial reaction towards a long-term outcome that you can live with. I’ve found that the initial hurt can propel a case such as this forward at break-neck momentum, and then months later the individual feels regret regarding the decision to abdicate himself from the life of a child he had grown to love and view as his own.
If you are in the middle of a paternity conundrum I urge you to give me a call so that we can discuss your options regarding the dispute.
Orlando Paternity Actions
Diligently Pursuing the Establishment of Parental Rights & Responsibilities
When a child is born to unmarried parents, the biological father has no legally defined relationship to the child. While this undefined nature of the parent-child relationship might not be significant as long as the couple stays together, both parents are in a precarious position if the relationship deteriorates. The dad has no legal right to have a voice in important decisions about his child or to insist on access to his child. The father must rely on the discretion of a former paramour. Without taking legal steps, the mom might be left at the whim of the dad to provide financial support for her child.
During my 27 years as a practicing attorney in Florida, my experience has included handling an enormous number of family law cases and taking over 350 legal cases to trial. While I represent both moms and dads in paternity actions, many dads seek me out because of my commitment to pursuing the rights and obligations of fatherhood. My efforts to educate myself about child development has shown me that the involvement of both parents promotes a child’s well-being and long-term success. At the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A., we are committed to negotiating paternity settlements but prepared to proceed to trial to seek justice and restore familial balance.
Establishing Paternity in Florida
Many unmarried couples can agree on the allocation of legal rights and responsibilities, so these issues can be resolved by drafting appropriate documents outside of court. Since the timeshare of the parents affects child support, parents who cannot agree on how much time their child will spend with each parent or who cannot agree on child support arrangements can pursue a paternity action to establish paternal rights and obligations.
The biological father of a child refers to the identity of the man who fathered the child, but this individual does not automatically have parental rights and responsibilities. These legal rights must be established through marriage, adoption, or court ruling. If the parents agree regarding the supposed dad’s paternity in Florida, the parties can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Execution of this form provides the most efficient and inexpensive means of establishing the full rights and responsibilities of a father, including the rights to participate in decisions and spend time with the child, as well as the obligation to provide financial support.
When unmarried parents cannot agree on the parentage of the child, either party can file an action to establish paternity. (If the dad is not seeking custody or visitation rights, the mom can obtain an administrative order that establishes paternity and child support through the Department of Revenue). The court can determine the supposed father’s paternity through evidence of the parental relationship or a DNA test. Evidence other than DNA testing might include the testimony of friends and family that a party made statements publicly acknowledging he was the father of the child. When DNA testing is used to prove parentage, the cost of the testing typically will be shared by the parties.
Disestablishing Paternity in Florida
When a man is served with a summons and complaint to establish paternity, the alleged father must file a response to prevent a default judgment. Although the man might believe he is the father based on representations by the mom, allowing a default judgment can be a risky proposition. The default judgment will establish the father’s paternity and his obligation for child support. If the dad later discovers he is not the father of the child, he might find he is stuck paying child support even though he is not the child’s biological father.
Although Florida statutes do furnish a procedure for challenging a prior determination of legal paternity, you should seek representation from an experienced family law trial attorney because the process is difficult. The court can rely on past court proceedings, conversations, or comments made previously by the alleged father as admissions of paternity. The best practice is to consult with an experienced Orlando paternity attorney if you are involved in a paternity case. If there has already been a judgment or you are currently in default, you should seek legal advice immediately regarding what steps can be taken to protect your legal rights.
High-Profile Paternity Actions
High-Profile parties like professional athletes, actors, musicians, CEOs, professionals, and other business owners can be targets of false claims of paternity. The negative publicity could threaten your career, family, and financial security. Our law firm has established a reputation for effective representation of celebrities, so we work to protect your privacy while exposing false allegations of paternity. If you are the biological parent, we work to protect your rights, reputation, and future.
Speak to Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A. Today
Orlando paternity lawyer Beryl Thompson-McClary will work diligently to amicably resolve issues of paternity, child custody, visitation, and child support. My approach mirrors Florida law in promoting the rights and responsibilities of both parents. We know that children do better when parents can resolve their legal issues amicably without denigrating the other parent in the presence of the child. Despite experienced handling hundreds of trials, we know the best option in most cases is to resolve parentage issues without contentious litigation. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999.