Jacksonville Paternity Lawyer

Paternity Attorneys serving Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Paternity AttorneyThere are several ways to establish paternity in Florida. A father who is not married to the mother at the time his child is born, and who does not sign an “acknowledgment of paternity” upon the birth of the child, must petition the court to establish “legal paternity” before he can pursue his parental rights to time-sharing or visitation, and joint custody or joint parenting. If you have question on how to establish paternity call an experienced Jacksonville paternity lawyer.

Begin a Paternity Claim

First things first-It is very important that a putative father register his claim for paternity with the Florida Department of Health putative father registry right away.   Registration is required by law and serves to ensure the putative father’s notice of any legal proceedings related to his biological child. Unmarried biological fathers are treated differently than married fathers. A married father is the child’s legal father even if there is no biological relationship, while an unwed biological father may have no standing to even pursue his rights to parenting and time-sharing. If you need more information on registering a claim with the putative father registry call the experienced paternity lawyers who can answer your questions.

Jacksonville Paternity Rights

If you are the father of a child with whom you do not habitually reside overnight because your relationship with the child’s mother is not an “in-tact” relationship, then it is critical that you establish enforceable parental rights towards your child and that you do so immediately. Ultimately, parents have a fundamental right to raise their own children. The difference here is that an unwed biological father must first establish his parental rights in order for him to enforce them against the mother, whereas a married father has enforceable rights by virtue of his marital status.

Your Paternity Obligations

Obligation to support begins at birth and can be retroactively established. For example,  Rita and Ben never married but became involved in a 10-year relationship. They conceived a child, Misty, who is now five years-of-age. Rita and Ben separated when Misty was age-2 but neither of them petitioned to establish paternity and Ben was out of the country when Misty was born and never signed any acknowledgment of paternity. In this scenario Ben has no enforceable parental rights until he petitions the court to establish them. Once the court adjudicates Ben to be Misty’s father, then the court can award Ben time-sharing and parenting rights, and can also establish Ben’s financial obligation to pay child support. In the meantime if Rita applies for benefits from the state of Florida then the state may administratively establish paternity as well as Ben’s child support obligation.

However the state will not establish Ben’s time-sharing or parenting rights and those time-sharing and parenting rights will significantly impact the amount of Ben’s child support obligations under the law. Unless terminated by court of proper jurisdiction, all fathers arguably have parental rights but not all fathers are created equally. Fact is that under the law it can also be interpreted that not all children are either.  If you or someone you know is an unwed biological father then you should consult with, or encourage them to consult with, a family law lawyer immediately. There is a father’s rights movement in Florida and parenting laws have become more liberal in favor of granting fathers custody or joint custody of their children.   You should immediately consult with and hire an experienced Jacksonville paternity lawyer who specializes in handling paternity cases.   If you are in this situation, you will most definitely need to file a petition in Florida to establish your parental rights.

Be the First to file a Paternity Claim

The Florida legislature has recently considered attempts to create a presumption that equal time sharing on a 50-50 basis in Florida is in the minor’s best interest. Another reason why you should immediately consult with an attorney is because venue in a paternity action may be proper in more than one place. You need to know well in advance the venue that is most suitable to your case. The first person who files is the Petitioner and the Petitioner has the choice of “venue” or forum which is very important when there is more than one proper venue. For example, the paternity statute governs venue in paternity actions. The paternity statute provides that venue is proper in the county in which either the Petitioner or the Respondent resides. If both parents reside in different counties then either county is a proper venue. This allows a limited opportunity for the Petitioner to select the forum he or she feels is best for their case. In the event the minor child does not habitually reside in the county chosen or either of the counties then there may even be other jurisdictional issues that should be considered.

Contact a Jacksonville Paternity Lawyer Today for Your Free Paternity Consultation

In these cases consulting with experienced paternity lawyers is critical. An attorney who is experienced will make a huge difference not only in the quality of relationship a father would expect to have with his child, but also in a father’s court ordered obligation to pay child support. Hire the most experienced attorney you can afford, and consider it an investment in your future.

Remember, when you need help with FAMILY LAW, choose FAMILY VALUES. Contact us and hire a Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law to help you with your paternity case in Florida.