In Florida, a child who is conceived to a married couple is presumed to be the child of both parents, although this presumption can be overcome. However, for a child that is born out of wedlock, there is no such presumption. For purposes of establishing the identity of the legal father of a minor child, and any and all rights and obligations that attach to that status, a paternity action must be filed with the court.
A paternity case is commenced by the filing of a Petition with the Court, either by the mother or by the putative (alleged) father. Once the Petition is filed, either party may request that the Court order DNA testing to determine paternity. The parties may agree to share in the costs of the DNA testing. If the mother pays for the initial blood testing, the Court may require the Father to reimburse her if he is found to be the biological father. Similarly, if the alleged father is not found to be the biological father, the mother may be required to reimburse him for his contribution. If the parties are in agreement that the putative father is the biological and natural father, there is no need to perform DNA testing.
Paternity must be established before child support and custody/visitation (time-sharing) can be determined by a Court. Once paternity has been determined, the Court maintains jurisdiction over the father and the issues involved in the case. The Court will usually require the parties to attend mediation prior to conducting a hearing on these issues. At The Women’s Law Group, we can help you whether you are facing a paternity action, seeking to establish paternity, or trying to obtain child support, custody, and/or visitation and timesharing.