While there has been some increase in the number of people delaying marriage due to economic circumstances or simply deciding to remain single, that does not mean that our society has decided to not procreate. The number of children born outside marriage has been increasing steadily and the number of cases involving the establishment of paternity has been increasing, too.
When a child is born during the time that the mother is in an intact marriage, there is a legal presumption that the child is the offspring of the parties. If the mother is not married, no such presumption arises. Even if her “boyfriend” signs the birth certificate, legal establishment of paternity is not created. The signing of a birth certificate by the mother and the “boyfriend” while at the hospital does not convey any legal rights to time-sharing or to necessarily provide financially for the child.
Almost all of the time when a paternity attorney is involved, we now determine paternity through DNA testing which often pertains to a 99.7 to 99.8 % probability. Thankfully, the advent of DNA testing has stopped the “old time” requirement of testimony to a jury and the display of the child for the jury to decide if they saw paternal familiarity. As barbaric as that sounds, that was the procedure in many jurisdictions well into the 1980’s because science had not sufficiently evolved to establish paternity to the necessary degree of medical certainty.
Unless the male is absolutely 100% certain that he and the mother were living in a monogamous relationship, the male cannot be assured that the child is his offspring. Lawyers who represent the male and perform their due diligence will pressure him to request DNA testing because once paternity is legally established it becomes extremely difficult and often impossible to undo.
Paternity can also be established without DNA testing by an adjudicatory hearing brought under the statutes governing inheritance, or dependency under workers’ compensation or similar compensation programs; an affidavit acknowledging paternity or a stipulation of paternity executed by both parties and filed with the clerk of the court; an affidavit that is a notarized voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, or a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity that is witnessed by two individuals and signed under penalty of perjury; or if paternity is adjudicated by the Department of Revenue as provided in s. 409.256, such adjudication, affidavit, or acknowledgment constitutes the establishment of paternity.
The male in paternity cases has some disadvantages compared to a married man. First, depending upon the circumstances, he may not even know that a child was conceived and born. If he is later determined to be the father, he cannot make up for the time lost but, the child support obligation can be retroactive up to 24 months before the Petition to Establish Paternity was filed.
A male may also find himself being sued for paternity and child support by the State of Florida Department of Revenue when the mother receives a benefit from the state to assist her with the child. The mother may have no choice but to proceed or lose benefits. She then receives the additional benefit of having an attorney representing her in establishing a child support order because the State of Florida also has an interest in having children being supported financially by both parents. When that type of case is finished, paternity and a child support obligation have been established but, the father’s rights to time sharing and to be a part of the decision making for the child are not addressed. The State’s interests are limited to financial contribution only. Therefore, if the judge does not make orders for parenting time or decision making for the child, Florida law assumes that the mother has all of the parenting time and sole decision-making authority for the child.
If the father desires to have rights to time sharing and decision making, he must file his own Petition to establish those rights. The State of Florida Department of Revenue will not represent the mother in such a proceeding.
Whether you are a single mom that needs to establish paternity or you believe that you are the father of the child and wish to a part of their life, contact the law office of Timothy J. Nusser, P.A.
Disclaimer: The hiring of a paternity attorney in Pensacola is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.