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Understanding Paternity Actions in Florida
A paternity action is when there is a child born to unmarried parents and either parent desires to establish their rights as a parent and establish child support. A paternity action will cover the establishment of paternity of a child, timesharing, child support, and/or attorney’s fees, if applicable.
As a top-rated Orlando law firm with expert paternity action attorneys, Longwell Lawyers provides exceptional legal counsel for individuals in need of representation for paternity actions. Established in 1993, the Orlando law firm of Longwell Lawyers understands how to effectively handle any family law matter.
Whether you are facing a divorce, child support matter, child custody matter, modification, paternity action, alimony matter, pre-nuptial matter, or post-nuptial matter, it is important to speak with an Orlando family law attorney who knows how to help you. Contact Longwell Lawyers for a free consultation.
What Is Paternity?
Any parent who desires to establish their rights as a parent to a child born outside of a marriage can file a Paternity Action. Pursuant to Florida Statute 742, the parent who files a paternity action must state sufficient facts regarding the paternity of the child in their Petition. If the paternity of the child is in question, either parent may file a motion with the Court to request that a DNA test be completed. There are fees associated with DNA testing which are not covered by the Court.
A parent may also seek to disestablish paternity after paternity has already been established. The Courts will rely on Florida Statute 742.18 when a parent seeks to disestablish paternity of a child.
There are many decisions regarding a child born outside of a marriage that must be made and some parents cannot make the decisions due to the lack of establishment of the child. This is also the case when a parent is not contributing to the support of the child born outside of a marriage and/or when one parent refuses to allow the other parent to spend time with the child. A paternity action will help parents by establishing their rights, establishing a parenting plan, and establishing child support.
Parental Responsibility & Parenting Plans in FL
Florida Provides three options for parental responsibility in a parenting plan.
The first option is Shared Parental Responsibility, which means that the parents will confer and jointly make all major decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Major decisions include, but are not limited to, decisions about the children 's education, healthcare, and other responsibilities unique to the family.
The second option is Shared Parental Responsibility with Decision Making Authority, which means the parents will attempt to confer and agree on major decisions affecting the welfare of the child. If the parents are unable to agree, one parent make be designated to make the decision.
The third option is Sole Parental Responsibility, which means only one parent will be designated to make all major decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Should Sole Parental Responsibility be ordered, the Court must find that Shared Parental Responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
Child Custody /Timesharing
Florida no longer uses the terms “child custody” or “visitation.” Instead, the terms “timesharing” and “parental responsibility” are used. The terms used in cases involving the custody of children are now “majority timesharing” including, “100% timesharing” and “supervised timesharing” or “equal timesharing.”
A Parenting Plan should be created in all cases involving minor children. The timesharing schedule parents have with the child should be as detailed as possible in the Parenting Plan, as this will be the guideline for the parents to follow until the child reaches the age of 18. The timesharing schedule should include starting and ending days and times, as well as details regarding how the exchange of the child will occur. Many Parenting Plans, including any forms found on the internet, lack many details that should be included in order for the parents to harmoniously co-parent, which is always in the best interest of the child.
For more information regarding timesharing and child custody, click here.
The number of overnights each parent has with the child is one of the main factors in calculating child support. An overnight is considered as where the child sleeps at night. A parent’s timesharing that ends without an overnight stay (such as going out to dinner) is not considered an overnight.
In Paternity Actions, most Courts have general guidelines of do’s and don’ts for parents to follow during the pendency of a case. These guidelines are known as Administrative Orders or Standing Temporary Orders. These guidelines are to help the parents co-parent in a healthy, efficient, and effective manner while the case is pending. The Courts take these orders seriously, and should either parent not comply with these orders, they may be found in contempt of Court.
For any type of family law matter in Orlando and all Central Florida, including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard, Lake, Sumter, Polk, and Volusia Counties, the attorneys at Longwell Lawyers know how to help you. We have attorneys and staff available who are fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and English. Please contact Longwell Lawyers for a free consultation at 407-426-5757.
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