Clearwater Paternity Lawyers - The Law Office of Robert M. Valentine provides legal representation to mothers and fathers in paternity matters throughout Tampa Bay. Many potential clients come into the office asking "What does paternity mean for me?" Simply put, paternity is the state of being a child's "legal" father. In Florida an unmarried father's paternity can be established by:
(1) Court Order: In order for an unmarried Father to establish his time-sharing and other legal rights (or for a Mother to establish the Father's legal responsibilities with regard to the child) either party may file a complaint to establish paternity in the Family Court;
(2) Acknowledgment: Unwed parents can sign an acknowledgment of paternity at any time after the birth of the child. It should be noted that this does not establish an unmarried Father's legal rights or obligations regarding the child, and if the parties wish to establish such rights and responsibilities then they must file a petition to establish paternity;
(3) Administrative Order: Sometimes the State of Florida may get involved in establishing paternity due to a parent's request for state services or otherwise, and in such cases genetic (DNA) testing is typically ordered and paternity can be established: and
(4) Legitimization: The parents can marry after the birth of the child and update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.
It is important to know that an unmarried father must still establish his rights to parenting time (visitation) and parental responsibility (custody) even though legal paternity has been established through an acknowledgment or administrative order. An unmarried father is not entitled to time-sharng or parental responsibility until the court enters an order granting him those rights. The factors that the Florida Courts consider when making a child custody determination can be found here.
When the issues of paternity, time-sharing, parental responsibility, or child support are contested, then the law Office of Robert M. Valentine can help you navigate the courts, arrange for DNA testing, secure custody and visitation rights, and a proper support order. Call Attorney Valentine at 727-536-0022 today for your free consultation.