Paternity is the legal establishment of relationship between a father and a child either by administrative establishment or by a court of law with competent jurisdiction, and is governed by Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes.
Historically, paternity actions dealt with the legal establishment of the father-child relationship for purposes of establishing support and was not an action which could be brought on by a putative father in the State of Florida. A putative father is a person alleging to be or alleged to be the father of a child prior to the legal establishment of paternity. In modern times, a putative father is now entitled to bring an action to determine paternity and establish legal rights to the child inclusive of all parenting issues as set out in the Dissolution of Marriage Statute in Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.
While historically disputes involving paternity and whether a father was the biological parent of a child often involved trials by jury and evidence presented regarding the relationship between the mother and the putative father, the circumstances of their relationship, and sometimes even comparing the child's looks to that of the putative father, modern times have brought forth more accurate and scientific methods to determine biological parentage and paternity. As recognized under Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes, DNA testing is the primary method for determining paternity, or rather technically whether a putative father cannot be excluded as the biological father in paternity testing. A paternity action may be initiated and filed prior to the birth of the child.
Laws regarding paternity have evolved and changed greatly over the years such that paternity may be established legally outside of the courts administratively by the mere signing of a birth certificate and non-rescinding of said signature within certain time frames. Whether paternity is established administratively or by court judgment, the children issues in a paternity action are similar if not the same as those arising in a dissolution of marriage action. The courts have jurisdiction to enter awards of child support, determine custody and time-sharing, parenting plans, parenting responsibility, and all other issues which affect any child subject to a paternity proceeding.
The Florida Statutes provide no presumption in favor of a mother or father where children issues are concerned, although under Chapter 744.301 of the Florida Statutes governing natural guardianships, the mother of a child born out of wedlock is legally considered to be the natural guardian of the child unless and until such time that a court of competent jurisdiction enters an order or judgment stating otherwise.
At the Law Office of Jonathan A. Zahler, P.A., we are committed to providing paternity clients our full commitment and excellent representation.