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September 28, 2017

Should I Get a Paternity Test?

by Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. in Family Law

If you are not sure about your child’s parentage, yes. There are legal reasons why a parent would have his or her child’s paternity determined as well as personal and medical reasons. Even if you are not looking to establish parental rights to a child, having a paternity test performed can help you determine his or her genetic health risks and give you peace of mind.

A Biological Father is Not Always a Legal Father

When a child is born to a married woman, her husband is automatically the child’s legal father regardless of whether he is the child’s biological father. If the mother is not married, the child’s biological father is not automatically put on the child’s birth certificate and granted parental rights. In order to be the child’s legal father, he must sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity at the time of the child’s birth or later in the child’s life.

If the child’s mother and the alleged father do not agree that the man in question is the child’s biological father, one can file a paternity action to have the child’s paternity established by the court or the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Services. Genetic testing is used to determine the child’s parentage.

Determining a Child’s Parentage can be Part of Establishing Parental Rights to Him or Her

In family law, the most common reason why an individual would seek a paternity test is to establish parental rights to a child. Having parental rights grants an individual the following:

  • The right to seek custody or parenting time with the child;
  • The right to seek child support for the child;
  • The right to cover the child with your health insurance and other benefits, like veteran benefits and Social Security; and
  • The child’s right inherit to your assets following your death if you do not have a will.

Filing a Paternity Action in Florida

A child’s mother, the child’s alleged father, a legal representative of the child, or the Florida Department of Revenue can file a paternity action to have a child’s parentage established.

When a party seeks to establish paternity through a court order, the court may order a genetic paternity test and require one or both of the parents to pay for it. In contrast, a genetic test ordered as part of an Administrative Order of Paternity through the Department of Revenue is free. In both scenarios, the final judgment establishes whether the alleged father is the child’s legal father. This does not automatically grant him child support or time with the child, but it does grant him the right to seek these things.

Work with an Experienced Winter Park Family Lawyer

Navigating issues of paternity, parental rights, and child custody can be tricky. If you find yourself entangled in these issues, an experienced Winter Park family lawyer can guide you to a productive solution. To get started with our firm, contact Sperling Ducker today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.