A paternity action establishes paternity and parental rights for a child born out of wedlock. In the State of Florida, paternity can be established when the mother and father sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity which becomes final and binding 60 days after it is signed. If the parents have not signed an Acknowledgement, the court can order genetic testing and paternity can be established through a court order. Often disputes over paternity and parenting arise when an unmarried couple separates. Even if paternity has been acknowledged, an unmarried father must pursue a paternity action to secure parental responsibility and timesharing or visitation. The written document that outlines parental responsibility and timesharing or visitation is called a parenting plan. A paternity action allows an unmarried parent to establish child support and an enforceable parenting plan.
Paternity actions can be pursued in an uncontested manner; meaning both parents want an enforceable parenting plan and court ordered child support and they agree on the terms. If the parents cannot agree, their case would be considered contested and the case is initiated when one parent files a Petition to Determine Paternity. Most of the time parents can settle their parenting issues and agree on a parenting plan in mediation. If they cannot agree in mediation, the parties will present their case to the Judge and the Judge will decide.
Paternity issues can be complex and securing your rights as a parent is too important to go it alone. Alyssa Vanstone has experience handling both uncontested and contested paternity cases. Please call today to schedule a consultation to discuss the facts of your case.