How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Legal Paternity in Florida?
Frequently, men in Tampa Bay do not discover that they’re new dads until well after the child is born. In Florida, unmarried mothers are under no obligation to disclose the birth of a child to the father. Unmarried moms’ in Florida have full custody until legal paternity is established. Florida statutes recognizes this and provides dads with “fathers’ rights” beginning with the ability to file a paternity action. Fathers can do so from birth up to four years after the age of majority (18 years old). Fathers have a legal right to file to establish legal paternity which helps to guarantee that they can be a part of their child’s life.
Requirements for a Father to Establish Legal Paternity in Tampa Bay, Florida
To be able to file a petition to establish legal paternity in Tampa Bay and the state of Florida, a father has to have been a resident of Florida for at least six months.
DNA Proves Biological Fatherhood, What Happens Next?
If residency requirements are met, and paternity cannot be determined by matter of law (parties were married when child was conceived or an unmarried father signed the birth certificate) or when a paternity action is contested, a DNA test will be ordered by a judge. If the DNA test proves to be conclusive, and the mother does not contest it, congratulations! The next step is to proceed to address the following through mediation or litigation:
- Parental Responsibility
- Timesharing & Custody (Parenting Plans)
- Child support
- Child Care
- Health Insurance
What if the Mother Contests a Father’s Paternity Action in Florida?
Should the mother contest a paternity action, a DNA test will be ordered. If the mother contests the petition or files a paternity counterclaim against the father, an experienced Tampa paternity lawyer will be highly beneficial. It may seem like an easy process to establish legal paternity in Pasco County, Pinellas or Hillsborough County. It is not unusual, however, for conflict to arise in any family law matter, particularly when children are involved. Matters relating to timesharing, financial obligations of both parties or even parental relocation or long distance co-parenting can lead to a contentious situation. Mediation is a wonderful tool in paternity actions as it is in other family law matters, however, if you reach an impasse and cannot agree, your case will go to trial. If this happens, your family law attorney must be a seasoned Tampa child custody litigation attorney. Although it is always best for parents to reach a co-parenting agreement in mediation, there are times when parties shouldn’t or cannot reach an agreement.
Can a Father Get 50/50 or Full Custody if Paternity is Established?
Fathers have a right and an obligation to their minor children according to Florida Statutes. It is not at all unusual for fathers to get 50/50 timesharing. Although the Florida Statutes make no presumption of 50/50 timesharing, the courts generally look favorably upon this type of parenting plan. A father whishing to petition the courts for sole or majority timesharing, should consult with a seasoned Tampa paternity lawyer. Every situation is unique, particularly when establishing legal paternity. In short, the best interests of the minor child should be paramount, and focusing on this will be looked upon positively by the courts.
Whether you are expecting an amicable co-parenting and child custody situation or one that is contentious, hiring a child custody lawyer in Tampa Bay who is experienced is paramount. To that point, if you need a child custody attorney in Pasco County, Pinellas or in Hillsborough County, the family lawyers at Nilo J Sanchez & Associates have over 25 years of experience and are very familiar with those courts and jurisdictions.