Paternity Attorney – Mother’s/Father’s Paternity Rights
It is extremely common these days for people to have children born outside of marriage. Changing family demographics in Florida and throughout the United States mean that unmarried mothers and fathers are increasingly likely to find themselves involved in disputes concerning paternity, visitation, or even time-sharing, ie., primary custody of their children. To learn how our experienced Jacksonville family law attorneys can help resolve these problems, contact us at Makofka & Makofka.
Most paternity disputes originate when either the mother or the State of Florida allege that a man is the father of a particular child in order to establish and enforce child support obligations against him. Paternity is generally proved through DNA testing. Although the amount of an unmarried father’s child support obligation is determined under the same guidelines used in Jacksonville divorce cases, an important difference between divorce and paternity is that an unmarried father is responsible to pay his entire share of the guidelines amount without any credit for time the child spends overnight at his home. In a divorce case, the noncustodial parent’s payment is reduced to reflect the time the child spends with him or her.
Paternity and Its Impact on Visitation
Formal proof of paternity and the enforcement of child support obligations by themselves give the unmarried father NO rights whatsoever to visitation rights. We are contacted all the time about this issue. Fathers call and email our office quite upset when they learn that they have been placed on child support, but have no rights to see their child or children outside of what the mother agrees to afford them. The mothers are legally entitled to do so! So how can a father who wants to see his child or children get the right to visit with them? The answer is simple: file a paternity action and go to court.
Specifically, if an unmarried father whose paternity has been proved (i.e., via birth certificate or DNA testing) wants to establish and secure a regular schedule of parenting time with his child, he must either file a counterclaim for visitation in the original paternity dispute, or he can later file a separate petition in court to establish and define his visitation rights. In this manner, a father’s right to maintain a stable relationship with his child doesn’t need to depend on the mother’s good will or whim. Father’s rights exist in Florida, but if they are not requested, they do not magically appear.
An experienced lawyer at Makofka and Makofka can handle the pursuit of father’s rights, and we do so on a regular basis for many clients. We understand both sides of the issue and help both fathers and mothers with these types of paternity cases.
Achieving Majority Time-Share in Florida
In recent years, our lawyers have helped an increasing number of unmarried fathers achieve majority time-share formerly referred to as primary custody of their children due to problems in the mother’s home or with her ability to provide a safe and stable home for the child. We are not afraid to take on the tough cases involving father’s rights, or to defend mothers from unwanted litigation brought on by fathers looking to get out of a child support obligation in the name of father’s rights.