As a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer, I often have cases where the parties are not married but they have a child in common. In my experience many men falsely believe simply because their name is on the birth certificate that they are legally the fathers. In Florida this is simply not the case!
Under Florida law, until a Judge signs an Order which determines you are the father, then the child is NOT legally yours. As such, you have no legal rights to the child for timesharing or parental rights of any kind.
In order to be recognized as the legal father in Florida it is necessary to file what is called a Petition for Determination of Paternity. Paternity actions are brought before the court in order to assist a parent in acknowledging and protecting important time-sharing and child support rights and/or obligations.
You may ask, “Who exactly can file a paternity action?” Any woman who is pregnant or has had a child, a man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or even a child may bring a paternity action to determine paternity when paternity has yet to be established. With that being said, an individual can also bring a paternity action if he believes he is not the father of a child but currently has a child support order against him.
Paternity actions are not simple proceedings that can be easily undertaken without the assistance of a knowledgeable Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer. If you have had a child out of wedlock and are concerned about your rights or what may be due to your child, contact Law Office of David M. Goldman to schedule a free consultation today! Night and weekend appointments available.