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Paternity Attorney Serving Sarasota & Bradenton, Florida

Establishing Paternity in Florida and/or Petitioning for a Parenting Plan

The process of establishing paternity in Florida may be necessary when a child is born out of wedlock. There are a number of methods that paternity can be established, however, many of them require that both parents agree that the individual claimed to be the father is, in fact, the biological father. If the parties cannot agree, it may be necessary for one of them to file a petition for paternity. A petition for paternity is a request to the courts that the identity of the father is legally established.

Either the mother or the father of a child can file a petition for paternity. A petition may be filed to protect either of the parent’s rights regarding the child and to ensure that he or she is (1) granted time-sharing, (2) allowed to be involved in the decisions affecting the child’s education, medical treatment, religious upbringing and other issues involving the raising of a child and (3)
to determine if child support should be paid and, if so, the amount of that child support.

If either party denies that the father is truly the biological parent of the child, the courts may require that DNA testing be completed pursuant to Florida Statute §742.12 which states in part that “[i]n any proceeding to establish paternity, the court on its own motion may require the child, mother, and alleged fathers to submit to scientific tests that are generally acceptable within the scientific community to show probability of paternity.”

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Paternity may have been previously established through one of the following methods described in Florida Statute §742.10 “Establishment of paternity for children born out of wedlock”: (1) an adjudicatory hearing brought under the statutes governing inheritance, or dependency under workers’ compensation or similar program; (2) an affidavit acknowledging paternity or a stipulation of paternity executed by both parties and filed with the clerk of court; (3) a notarized
voluntary acknowledgment of paternity witnessed by two individuals and signed under penalty of perjury; or (4) an adjudication by the Department of Revenue. If that is the case, it may only be necessary to file a petition for a parenting plan to be imposed by the court. As discussed above, that parenting plan ensures that a time-sharing schedule is established and determines who shall have decision-making authority for a variety of issues including education, medical treatment and religious upbringing.

When paternity is established and a parenting plan is entered, the courts must also address child support. Child Support is usually one of the most contentious issues associated with this process. Whether it is true or not, it is often the perception of one, or both, of the parties that child support is being sought out of revenge or to have control over the party that is ultimately required to pay.

The amount of child support that will be paid for the support of a child is dependent upon what the Florida Legislature has determined is that child’s “need.” The child’s need is based upon the income of the parties. Child support is then calculated based upon the proportion of income that each of the parties provides and the proportion of the time-sharing of the parties.