Wanting The Best For Your Child

Paternity determinations for children born outside of marriage can be extremely complex in the state of Florida. J. Melanie Slaughter helps mothers who need to prove paternity in order to pursue child support payments or state benefits as well as fathers seeking visitation rights or custody.

Proving Paternity

The state of Florida assumes the father of any child born to a married woman is that woman's husband even if that child is not the husband's biological child. If an unmarried woman gives birth, paternity must be established. Having your name on a child's birth certificate will not assure you of paternal rights if the child's mother contests paternity.

There are two ways to establish paternity:

1. Voluntary acknowledgement

A form called "Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity" is used to establish paternity voluntarily after a child has been born. The form must be signed by both parents and goes into effect 60 days after it has been signed. Once this document goes into effect, it is extremely difficult to revoke.

2. Court order.

Under Florida law, court proceedings to establish paternity can be initiated by the child's mother, the man who thinks himself to be a child's father, a legal representative acting on behalf of a child or the Florida Department of Child Support Services.

The case will be tried in a Florida circuit court that is dedicated to matters of family law. The judge presiding over this court may make interim orders pertaining to child support, health insurance for the child, decision-making authority over the child and attorney fees related to the case. If the court does not issue such interim orders, state law assumes that the mother retains all decision-making authority.

If you are engaged in a legal issue where a child's paternity may be a determining factor, turn to the law firm of J. Melanie Slaughter, P.A., for the guidance and advice you need. Call our law firm in Ocala at 352-414-5945 as soon as possible to request a consultation.