In Florida paternity is the way that a parent establishes legal rights for any child born to parents who are not married.

In regards to children, paternity creates certain financial and legal obligations that involve child support, health care coverage, and inheritance rights.

In addition the establishment of paternity is necessary to determining  custody and visitation or timesharing with a child. If you do not have proof of paternity that neither the police nor the courts will be in a position to enforce any visitation or timesharing agreement.

Paternity also gives mothers the right to pursue child support payments from the legally established father.  Although an obligation to pay child support begins as soon as the unmarried parents separate it does not start automatically.  Court ordered child support payments can only begin after paternity is established.

Once paternity is established you can take the parent of the child to court and they will be ordered to pay child support. In addition the courts can order the payments of any child support arrearages. The arrearages will continue to grow until the child support payments start occurring.

If a person denies paternity in a particular situation, Florida law provides in a scientific test (DNA) to determine the parentage of the child. If the scientific test shows that you are not the parent of a child you can use the test to de-establish paternity in a particular situation.

If you are the unmarried parent of a child and would like to protect yours and your child’s right you should speak to an experienced attorney to help guide you through the paternity process.

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