Paternity laws vary from state to state making it difficult for parents to know what to expect. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Florida paternity laws.
I CHILDREN BORN OUTSIDE MARRIAGE
The Mother is the natural guardian of a child born out of wedlock and is entitled to primary residential care and custody unless a Court order establishes otherwise:
- Because the mother is the sole custodian of a child born out of wedlock, she may leave the State before a paternity order (order establishing the identity of the father) is entered by the court
- She cannot be ordered to return until a paternity order is entered
- Until paternity is established the putative (alleged) father has no standing to ask the Court to pick up the child, to obtain custody or to prevent leaving the state
II BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND PUTATIVE FATHER REGISTRY
The courts have held that the requirements associated with the execution of a birth certificate can be considered to be a voluntary admission of paternity but does not establish paternity. Likewise, an entry in the Father registry does not establish paternity.
III ESTABLISHING PATERNITY
Paternity can be established in a variety of ways, however, it is highly recommended that a petition to determine paternity is filed with the court with a resulting Order determining paternity.
IV PRESUMPTION THAT HUSBAND OF THE BIOLOGICAL MOTHER IS THE CHILD’S FATHER
The presumption of legitimacy (that the child is the offspring of a married couple) is one of the strongest rebuttable presumptions know to law and is based on the child’s interests in legitimacy:
- Before blood tests can be ordered in cases in which a presumption of legitimacy is raised by the putative (alleged) father, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child.
- Where a party requests the Court to order a blood/DNA test, a special hearing (“Privette hearing”) will be held by the Court and the moving party has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he is the father. Even if the legal father is proven not be the child’s biological father, there must still be proof of a compelling reason that it is in the child’s best interests to overcome the presumption of legitimacy.
- A married couple that stipulates and states that the husband is not the child’s father will not overcome the presumption of legitimacy
- The “non -access rule” whereby it is shown that the husband lacked access to the wife at the time of conception will overcome the presumption.
If you have any questions regarding paternity, call the experienced Family Law attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. Our firm has been representing Florida’s families for over 35 years.