Establishing Paternity in Florida
Legally establishing the paternity of a child sets the rights and obligations of the parents to time-sharing and child support.
A paternity case can be filed by a mother OR a father.
Parties in a paternity case in Miami, Florida, should be aware of new Administrative Order 14-13, which applies to parenting cases. To get a copy of the Order, click this link (will open as a pdf) at the Eleventh Judicial Circuit site or see this entry on the Miami Divorce Paternity Blog. For other Florida counties, you should check that county’s website page to see if they have a similar order.
Chapter 742 is the Florida Statute applicable to a paternity case.
Regardless of whether it is the mother or the father who files the paternity case, the Court will decide the following questions:
- The paternity of the child, meaning whether the father in the case is actually the father via DNA testing, if the paternity hasn’t been otherwise established by, for example, the father being listed on the birth certificate;
- Parental responsibility of the child;
- Child support amount to be paid; and
- Time sharing with the child for the parent with whom the child is not currently living or sharing time.
Paternity cases share some of the processes and procedures with divorces such as:
- Formally open a paternity case in family court by filing a petition to establish paternity, time-sharing and child support.
- Service of process on the other party, whether the mother or the father, if necessary; or publication if the whereabouts of the father is not known.
- If the paternity petition is served, the party has 20 days to file an answer and a counter-petition.
- The establishment of a parenting plan for time-sharing with the child.
- The calculation of child support to be paid pursuant to the Florida child support guidelines.
- A trial if the case is contested.
Just as in a divorce, parties in a paternity can enter into an agreement or go to trial. If the parents agree, then the case is concluded as uncontested, meaning there is no litigation. If, for some reason, the parents do not agree, then a final hearing will have to be scheduled, just like in a contested divorce case.
In a paternity case in Florida, parents will have to take a parenting class. You can do this class online for Miami-Dade cases. (This may be different in certain Florida counties so you will need to check with the court in your county).
Court Fees in a Paternity Case:
The fee to open or file a paternity case in Miami’s Family Court is $301.00, payable directly to the Clerk of Courts. The Clerk also charges an additional $10.oo for each defendant/respondent who will be served with the paternity complaing.
For services in a paternity case, I offer two options. The first is the traditional hourly billing; the other is a flat fee for the entire case.
For more on paternity cases in Florida, download the free whitepaper, How to Prepare for a Paternity Case in Florida Before You See a Lawyer or Go to Court.
Or, you can call us at 305-710-9419.
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