Paternity

Paternity cases involve legally establishing the father of a child, usually separate and apart from a dissolution of marriage case. In paternity cases, the parties are not married. Paternity cases usually involve the need to establish support for the minor children, time-sharing, and attorney fees.

Establishing paternity is important to establish a basis for the support of minor children. Without a finding of paternity, an order requiring child support cannot be entered against the father or the mother of the minor children. Virtually all of the minor child's legal rights, including Social Security benefits, flow from a paternity determination. Often times the child's social, economic, and cultural advantages or disadvantages are significantly influenced by a paternity determination. The child's rights to love and cherish and to be loved and to be cherished and to be shaped by both parents who have not been married stems from a paternity determination.

A father's rights and responsibilities to love and cherish and to be loved and cherished and to earn respect begin with a paternity determination. The mother's rights and responsibilities for economic and social assistance begin with a paternity determination.

In certain situations, the parent who has the children the substantial amount of the time and who applies for state funded support and services, such as food stamps, WIC, and Florida KidCare insurance, can be represented by the Department of Revenue in what is called a Title IV-D case. These cases can only involve establishment of paternity and establishment of child support. If any other issues are involved, such as visitation and parental rights, they must be handled in a separate paternity action.