Paternity Cases: Cases Involving Children Born to Unmarried Parents

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Cases involving children born to unmarried parents are often referred to as paternity cases.  In Florida, it is necessary for parents to file a paternity case to establish fatherhood; determine custody, timesharing and visitation; and / or to obtain a child support order.

Why File a Paternity Case?

Paternity cases may be inititated by either the child’s father or mother. Fathers commonly file a case in order to preserve parental rights as a father, and to establish or clarify timesharing. Mothers commonly file a case in order to establish child support, and to establish or clarify timesharing.

Discovery in a Paternity Case

After a case is filed, the parents are required to exchange certain documents within a specified time frame. Failure to provide this information can result in the court dismissing the case or not considering that parent’s requests. An accurate child support guideline worksheet must also be filed with the court at or before any hearing on child support. This requirement may not be waived by the parents or the court.

Uncontested Paternity Cases

If the parents can agree on child custody, and other parenting issues before or soon after the original petition is filed, the case can become final in a few weeks. If the parents cannot agree on these matters, then case is considered to be contested. Contested cases are generally referred to mediation.

Mediation in Contested Paternity Cases

Parents that cannot come to an agreement in a paternity case are referred to mediation. Mediation is a procedure to assist parents in working out an agreement without a protracted process or a trial. If parents cannot come to an agreement, then a trial may be required. In these cases, the judge makes the final decision on contested issues.

Get a Legal Strategy

Family law cases can be highly emotional and traumatic for everyone involved. Unmarried parents often do not know their legal rights and obligations. Court clerks and judges might be able to answer some of your basic questions but are prohibited from giving legal advice. Only your lawyer is allowed to do that.

Statutory requirements and court rules must be strictly followed or you may lose certain rights forever. It is recommended that you obtain the services of an attorney concerning legal questions, your rights in a divorce, your children’s rights, your property rights, your parental responsibilities and tax consequences thereof. A knowledgeable lawyer can analyze your unique situation and can help you to make decisions in the best interest of you and your family.

Call DeVoe Law Firm if you are an umarried parent and need help with your family law case. DeVoe Law Firm can help you establish your parental rights; get a court order on custody, visitation, and timesharing; and determine child support.

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