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Paternity

Tampa Paternity Attorney

Why Paternity Actions Are Necessary in Tampa

If you were not married to the other parent at the time when your child was born, there is no legal presumption as to the identity of the child's father. When a woman gives birth to a child outside of wedlock, Florida state law does not assign paternity to any man, unless the father comes forward to affirm the fact of the biological relationship with the child by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Only the mother has any type of legal rights in relation to the child, and conversely it is only the woman who is recognized to have any type of legal responsibility for the child's support and well-being. In most cases, this is a circumstance which places everyone involved at a disadvantage, including the father, the mother and the child. Fortunately, the situation can be turned around by filing a paternity action to legally establish the identity of your child's father, and it may be initiated by either the mother or the father.

There are many advantages of establishing paternity, including:

  • It gives the mother the legal power to claim the child support payments which she needs and deserves to provide for the needs of the child, rather than being forced to support the child on her own
  • Legal paternity provides the father with a right to petition the court for visitation time with the child, as well as for joint or shared legal and physical child custody, since without this any access which the father may have with the child is entirely at the discretion and whim of the mother
  • It provides the child with vital information concerning family medical history as well as access to organ donation should this become necessary
  • Paternity allows the child to enjoy rights of inheritance and survivor's benefits upon the death of the father, in addition to being able to receive care through the father's medical benefits and insurance

It is not enough for you and the other parent to establish verbal or even written agreements concerning such matters as child support and visitation time. Such agreements are not legally enforceable, and you will have no recourse in case the other parent changes his or her mind or stops complying with the terms that you reached. Instead, it is in the best interests of both you and your child to properly carry out a full paternity action.

How to Determine Paternity

DNA tests are a common and very efficient way of determining whether a person is the true biological parent of a child, and are often used in paternity cases throughout Florida. These are very difficult to contest, and it is widely regarded to be the most effective means of determining a biological relationship. For those parents who wish to gain more access to their child for visitation, custody or other reasons, this is a great option. On the other hand, a paternity dispute is an excellent way to prove a biological relationship in order to secure certain requirements from a parent such as child support or even medical history.

What Is Involved in a Paternity Action in Tampa?

If you and the other parent are in agreement concerning the fact of paternity and all other related issues, a Tampa divorce attorney from the Law Offices of Manuel Fajardo can assist you with preparing and submitting an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, in addition to drafting a parenting plan to address matters including custody, visitation and child support. In the event that the other parent contests the paternity action, we can help you bring the matter to court for a hearing before a family law judge who will hear testimony and review evidence to determine whether the claim is valid.

This may involve obtaining an order for DNA testing for the purpose of obtaining irrefutable evidence of the genetic relationship between the father and the child. If an alleged father does not appear at such a hearing, the judge may issue a default ruling which legally establishes paternity. Whether you are a mother seeking the help and support you need in raising your child or if you are a father who wants to play an active role in your child's life, contact us now for a free consultation to discuss your situation and to begin the process. We are able to assist in a number of divorce related areas of the law.

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