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Home > Areas of Practice > Family Law > Paternity Actions

St. Petersburg Paternity Lawyers

Paternity, also known as parentage, identifies the person who will be a child’s legal father in the eyes of the law. A paternity lawsuit can be brought by an unmarried father or mother to establish paternity and its accompanying rights and obligations to timesharing and child support. A lawsuit can also be brought when the identity of the father is in dispute. Outside of a father’s voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or conclusive DNA evidence, a paternity action in court is needed to create legally enforceable rights and obligations. The Florida family law attorneys at Greene & Greene represent mothers, fathers and other interested parties in paternity actions in the courts of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco County. Contact our experienced St. Petersburg paternity lawyers today for immediate assistance.

Help With Paternity Proceedings in Florida

Florida statutes authorize several different parties to initiate a paternity action in their local county court, including a pregnant woman, a mother, a man with reason to believe he is the father of a child, or a child. As part of this process, the court will hold a hearing to determine paternity and the ability of the parents to support the child. A court’s judgment can include instituting a parenting plan and timesharing schedule, or the judge could award all custodial time and sole parental responsibility to the mother or party receiving child support. The determination of paternity has important, long-term consequences for all parties involved. Our experienced St. Petersburg paternity lawyers will ensure you are properly advised and well-represented in any paternity matter so that your rights and interests can be protected.

As part of the paternity proceeding, the court can require the child, mother and any alleged fathers to submit to scientific testing. Test results are filed with the court along with opinions and conclusions of the lab, but a party to the proceeding can object to the test results, and parties can provide outside expert witness testimony to refute or support the testing procedure or results.

Test results are admissible into evidence and weighed along with other evidence submitted to the court. If the genetic testing results in a statistical probability of 95% or more, this creates a rebuttable presumption that the individual is the father, but other evidence could still overcome this presumption and lead to a different conclusion. If the test results show the individual cannot be the father, the case will be dismissed.

Once paternity has been established, a male can move to disestablish paternity or terminate a child support obligation by completing an affidavit detailing newly discovered evidence, filing a petition with the court and serving a copy on the mother. A court hearing would then be conducted.

In addition to paternity actions in court, there are other ways to officially establish paternity:

  • If the mother and the reputed father marry at any time after birth, the child is deemed to be the child of the husband and wife.

  • The parents can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. If this acknowledgment is notarized or witnessed by two witnesses and signed under penalty of perjury, it creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity. The voluntary acknowledgment of paternity can be rescinded within 60 days. After that, the acknowledgment of paternity can only be challenged based on fraud, duress, or a material mistake of fact.

  • Paternity can be established in an adjudicatory hearing outside of a paternity action, such as a probate court determining inheritance, a workers’ compensation judge determining dependency, or the Department of Revenue in a tax matter.

Contact Greene & Greene Today

Only a child’s legal father can exercise a right to timesharing and parenting, and only a child’s legal father can be ordered to pay child support. Establishing paternity can also have many other benefits for the child, such as the right to inherit, receive government benefits or health insurance coverage, know one’s family medical history and ancestry, and much more. A paternity action should not be taken lightly given the serious and long-term consequences of establishing parentage. If you are a party to a paternity action in Hillsborough, Pinellas, or Pasco County, our Florida family law attorneys at Greene & Greene can help. Call our experienced St. Petersburg paternity lawyers today.

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