Legally Establishing Rights to Children in Florida
Paternity cases are those cases that involve a couple who is not married but have one or more children from that relationship. A paternity action in Florida is filed when a person wants to legally establish the paternity of a child and set the legal obligations of the both parents.
The Florida Statute that codifies or deals with paternity is Chapter 742.
A paternity case or action can be filed by a mother OR a father.
Regardless of whether it is the mother or the father who files the paternity case, the following questions will be decided by the Court:
- 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:
- The need to 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, paternity cases can be settled by agreement of the parties or by a paternity trial. If the parents agree, then the case can be done in an uncontested manner, meaning there is really 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. This usually can be done online. (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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