Paternity and Father’s Rights Cases in Florida
A paternity case may be initiated by either the mother or father in Florida. Paternity/Father’s Rights cases are usually brought forward to determine parental rights, time sharing, and child support.
WHAT A FLORIDA PATERNITY CASE DECIDES
The items decided by a Florida court in a paternity case include:
1) Paternity of the child
This is typically established through a DNA test, if the father hasn’t already been listed on the child’s birth certificate. A father being listed on a birth certificate can be enough to establish paternity in Florida in certain cases.
2) Parental responsibility for the child
This ties into decisions the father is allowed to make with the mother for the child’s welfare, and child support payable for the child, usually in accordance with Florida state child support guidelines.
3) Time sharing of the child
If the child is not currently living with the father, time sharing will be arranged through the court.
UNCONTESTED AND CONTESTED PATERNITY CASES
As with divorce cases, paternity cases where both parties can come to an agreement prior to filing the case are uncontested cases, and much more affordable. Contested cases, usually where the father or mother denies parental responsibility for the child, are expensive for both parties.
We encourage our paternity case clients to work out their differences and file an uncontested paternity case. You can always start out with a contested case if paternity is in reasonable doubt that you are the father, and then if paternity is proven, come to a settlement to save money and time.
THE FLORIDA PATERNITY CASE PROCESS
1) A petition is filed with the Osceola County or other Florida court to start the case.
2) The defendant is served, either in-person or through publication in a paper if the defendant’s location is not known in certain cases.
3) The defendant then has 20 days to respond to the petition.
4) A paternity test is ordered and undertaken.
5) If the test is positive, a parenting plan is established between the two parties.
6) If the test is positive, orders for child support are drawn up.
7) If the case is contested, it goes to trial. The case may be settled at any time up until the trial.
8) Parenting classes are always ordered by the court for one or both parties
WHY YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR PATERNITY CASES
As with divorce, emotions in paternity cases run high. This can lead to expensive legal actions that don’t fit within your budget. An experienced family law attorney knows how to cut through to what the court needs, what evidence a court will accept and won’t accept, what the usual precedents are and the usual attitudes of Florida family law courts on paternity cases. Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a paternity case, you are flying blind without a lawyer and this can have consequences for your family and your finances.
ATTORNEY’S FEES FOR FLORIDA PATERNITY CASES
The charge to file the petition is $301 plus $10 for each defendant served. These fees are payable directly to the court and are apart from attorney fees.
If the paternity case is uncontested, a flat fee or set number of hours can be charged for the case. If it is contested (e.g. if any of the points are challenged by the defendant) it will be costly for both parties as it will involve preparation for trial and a trial rather than just a simple filing. We will always try to minimize these costs for you, but a contested paternity case can be very expensive to fight. You can choose to request legal fees, but keep in mind that if the case is settled at any point you may not receive legal fees.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation on your Florida paternity case.