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 » Paternity


As more children are born out of wedlock, there are questions about a child’s biological parents. A child does not legally have a father if the mother disputes paternity. The mother is considered the sole parent until the either a paternity test is ordered by her or the opposing individual through the courts. Thus the father does not have legal rights to a child unless a paternity action and paternity test shows the man is the biological dad. A paternity petition is filed in the same manner as a divorce petition and the opposing individual must respond within 20 days or a default can be entered that automatically establishes the paternity. This can have a big impact on child support, so legal representation should be chosen swiftly to uphold an individual’s rights.

Both individuals in a paternity action are required to submit a financial affidavit, evidence of Social Security numbers, a child support guidelines worksheet, and a parenting plan as well as a uniform child custody, jurisdiction, and enforcement affidavit.

After paternity is established, the child’s biological parents must come to an agreement on child custody, visitation, and child support concerns. Similar to a divorce, the parties must undergo mediation to resolve their differences on contested issues. Mediators are skilled at keeping the discussions moving forward and allowing each person to communicate their areas of concern.
Our Brandon child custody attorney Joshua Law is also a children’s rights attorney. He knows how to uphold your child’s best interests as the negotiations get underway. If a negotiated agreement occurs at the end of the mediation, then a judge will review and approve it in a final, brief hearing.

Final Hearing
When the two parties cannot settle their differences by mediation, a judge will hear the contested issues in a court hearing. The judge will rule on the issues and create a final determination that will become a court order regarding the child support, visitation, and custody matters.

With mediation or a court hearing, the final order binds the biological parents to the child. Both parents will be obligated to carry out the duties set forth in the order in regards to child support, visitation, and custody. The courts always uphold the best interests of the child over the parents.

Family law procedures may be subject to change and every county has different court procedures. Uncontested divorces can be finalized within 60 days for a flat fee.