Guide to Paternity & Fathers’ Rights in Florida

Florida paternity laws are on the books for the best interests of children and families across the state. But they can be confusing for those who are not in the legal profession. As experts in family law, Golden Key Law Group works with Florida paternity statutes and multiple essential legal needs for families, including divorce, child custody, child support, and more. We are here to provide the information you need and the legal help you deserve.


Florida Paternity Laws

Under Florida paternity laws, if a woman is married when she gives birth to a child, it is assumed that the father of the child is the husband – making some people wonder if Florida is a “mother or a father state.” But that doesn’t mean that fathers that aren’t married to their child’s mother do not have any legal rights.

If the mother is not married when the child is born, then Florida paternity statutes state that paternity must be established through a DNA test, which can be voluntarily, or if need be, through a court order. Either party can request the DNA test. But even if there is a name on the birth certificate (husband), if another man believes that he is the father of the child, he has the right to request a DNA test by filing a paternity action. That’s where the family law attorney comes in.

A family law attorney is vital in all types of paternity actions because it is critical to assert the proper legal grounds and file the appropriate documentation for the judge to grant your requests. Fathers have rights and responsibilities according to Florida paternity laws, and having the right legal guidance and assistance is key to getting the best outcome in a paternity action.


Parental Responsibility and Timesharing

parental responsibility after a divorceOnce paternity is established, the next step laid out by Florida paternity laws is to determine parental responsibility and timesharing of the child or children. The parent who has primary responsibility, which depending on the case, could be the mother or the father, has the decision-making power for significant aspects of the child’s life from education, medical care, and other important life circumstances.

When a paternity action is filed, timesharing will also be decided upon by the judge. Parental responsibility and timesharing are two other essential areas where a family law or paternity attorney can help clients get the best outcome. There are complex formulas that determine responsibility and timesharing (custody schedule). The judge will use the factors outlined in Florida paternity statutes while considering the presentation of all the facts of your case.


Child Support

Child support exists to make sure the children are consistently getting their needs met when it comes to food, shelter, clothing, educational requirements, health needs, and more. Florida paternity law details multiple factors that will determine what child support will be after paternity is established and/or divorce is final. The major factors of child support guidelines are:

  • Income of the father
  • Income of the mother
  • Health insurance costs
  • Daycare expenses

Timesharing can affect the calculation of child support. A St. Petersburg family law attorney presents all of the relevant factors in determining custody, timesharing, and child support to the judge to reflect the desires of their clients for the best interests of the children.


How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Florida?

Many fathers will not discover the paternity of a child until well after it is born. Florida statutes recognize that and give fathers the right to file a paternity action from birth up to eighteen years of age. Whether the child is an infant, elementary school age, or a teenager, fathers have a right to file a paternity action so they can be a part of that child’s life.

To be able to file a petition for paternity in the state of Florida, the person has to be a resident of Florida for at least six months.


Can You Modify an Existing Paternity Order?

how to modify a paternity orderFlorida paternity laws do allow existing paternity orders to be modified — but only under certain circumstances. Sometimes, original orders may get outdated due to vagueness or a change in circumstance, which is held under higher scrutiny in family law because the original order, including timesharing, is intended as a reflection of the best interests of the children.

A family law attorney works with clients when the need arises for modification of an existing paternity order to establish that there is a substantial change in circumstances in the eyes of the court. Modifications are very complex and require an experienced family law attorney to represent the facts of the case (and any needed changes) appropriately.


Can I Relocate if I Have a Paternity Order?

Florida paternity laws are strict when it comes to relocation. Everything has to be done according to the Florida statutes, or things can go wrong, like changing primary custody or timesharing agreements. Many timesharing and custody plans have explicit language in them regarding locating more than 50 miles away from your original location. If you need or are planning to relocate your residence, you should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible to represent your parental rights.


Contact Golden Key Law – St. Petersburg Family Law Attorneys

Here at Golden Key Law, we are dedicated to helping children thrive and representing the rights of St. Petersburg parents in negotiations and courts of law. With expertise in Florida paternity laws, we help fathers and families with a wide range of legal needs — from filing paternity actions to advocating on you and your children’s behalf in timesharing and child support.

Connect with us today to set up a consultation with one of our family law attorneys. We understand the importance of family and work diligently on behalf of our clients and the best interests of Florida children.