How to Establish Paternity in Florida

Every child deserves to have a legal dad, and fathers have rights to be a legal parent to their children. Paternity is the legal establishment of the identity of a child’s father. Contrary to common belief, when a man’s name is on a child’s birth certificate as the father, this doesn’t establish paternity. In fact, a mother may list anyone whom she believes is, or wants to be, the father. Also contrary to popular belief, a DNA test is not the only way paternity can be established. Paternity can be established through several means. Paternity gives rights and benefits to the mother, the father and the child. The Florida Department of Revenue provides the following information when establishing paternity.

Some of the rights and benefits for the child are:

  • Information on family medical history
  • The child will know the identity of his or her father
  • The father’s name is on the birth certificate
  • Health or life insurance from either parent, if available
  • Support from both parents, like child support and medical support
  • Get Social Security or veteran’s benefits, military allowances and inheritances

Paternity gives both parents the legal right to:

  • Get a child support order
  • Get a court order for shared time with the child
  • Have a say in decisions about the child

Does Your Child Have a Legal Father?

  • A child born to parents that are married to each other has a legal father. Married parents and their child get all the rights and benefits listed above.
  • A child does not have a legal father if the mother is not married when the child is born. Paternity has to be established for the child.

How Do I Establish Paternity for My Child?

At birth in the hospital:

If the mother is married, the mother’s husband at birth is the legal father of the child. Neither parent needs to do anything to establish paternity. This paperwork is completed by the hospital. If the mother is married but does not list her husband’s name on the child’s birth certificate, paternity must be addressed in court.

If the mother and father are not married when the child is born, the child’s father can fill out and sign the Paternity Acknowledgment form (also called the DH-511) in the hospital. Both parents must fill out and sign the form in the presence of a notary public provided by the hospital. This is the quickest and easiest way to establish paternity when the mother and father are not married.

The man that signs the DH-511 form is the legal father as soon as the form is complete. The hospital will send the form to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics so they can record the birth. The legal father’s name will also be on the birth certificate when it is recorded. Note: This option cannot be used if the mother is married when the child is born.

Age 0-18 years by legitimation or acknowledgement:

If the mother is unmarried when the child is born, but later marries the child’s father, the husband becomes the legal father. When this happens, the father’s name is not automatically added to the child’s birth certificate.

To add the father’s name to the birth certificate, the parents can complete The Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida form (DH-743A) or provide a written statement under oath to the Clerk of Court when they apply for their marriage license. The DH-743A form will be provided to the parents by the Clerk of Court when the parents return the completed marriage license. The Clerk of Court will send the completed form or written statement to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics so the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate.

After the child’s birth and any time until the child reaches age 18, the mother and child’s father can establish paternity if they fill out and sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form (Form DH-432) *. Both parents must fill out and sign this form in the presence of two witnesses or a notary public. This form is also available by visiting your local Florida Health Department, the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics in Jacksonville, or one of the Florida Department of Children and Families offices. Mail the completed form to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics and they will change the birth certificate to add the legal father’s name. Note: This option cannot be used if the mother was married when the child was born.

Age 0-18 years by order:

Paternity is determined by a judge in court

Paternity can be established by filing a civil action in circuit court. A judge can establish paternity by court order. We will ask the court to hear the case and then a judge decides whether or not paternity is established. Until paternity is legally established the man is referred to as the “alleged father.” Based on the evidence, the judge may issue an order that says the man is the child’s father. A judge can also establish paternity in other kinds of court actions, such as divorce or dependency.

In court cases:

  • The party who files the action must be served.
  • If both parents agree to legal paternity before the actual day of the court hearing they can sign a consent order that is adopted by the court as the final order.
  • Both parents must appear for the court hearing as scheduled.
  • If the alleged father was served, but does not show up for court, the judge may choose to “default” the alleged father and make him the legal father without him being there.
  • The court may order a genetic test.
  • One or both parents may be ordered to pay for the genetic test and any other court costs.

Paternity is determined by the Child Support Program in a Final Order

The Florida Department of Revenue can help parents determine paternity without going to court. To do this:

  • the mother,
  • the man believed to be the father, and
  • the child(ren)

must provide genetic samples that are tested. If the test results prove that the man believed to be the father is the biological father, the Department will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity and tell the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.

Please note: The Florida Department of Revenue will review cases to see which order method listed above is the best option for each individual case.

If you are a father being denied paternity or time with your children, please contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm in Orlando, Florida for informative counsel and representation in paternity matters. Our caring legal team is ready to help you.

Court Rules in Favor of Man Appealing Florida Alimony

The 5th District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach recently ruled partially in favor of a man who raised concerns about Florida alimony payments and loans in a divorce case. Charmaine Little reports for Florida Record.

The Appeal:

Matthew Wayne appealed the judgment of the Circuit Court of Brevard County for himself and his estranged wife, Susan Einspar. Wayne had several concerns about how the circuit court ruled.

According to the motion filed in April, “Wayne has raised ten issues, contending that the trial court erred in: 1) distributing certain assets and debts between the parties, including their son’s school and automobile loans; 2) failing to credit Wayne for temporary alimony payments made to Einspar between August 2011 and April 2 2013; 3) awarding retroactive alimony to Einspar; 4) awarding permanent alimony to Einspar; 5) determining the amount of permanent alimony; 6) placing undue emphasis on the “lifestyle” factor in determining the amount of permanent alimony; 7) declining to impute income to Einspar; 8) calculating Wayne’s net monthly income; 9) requiring Wayne to carry a life insurance policy with Einspar as the beneficiary to secure his alimony obligation; and 10) excessively delaying the entry of the final judgment following the conclusion of trial.”

Both parties agreed that Einspar and the son cosigned on the car while Wayne took responsibility for the student loans, according to court records. The appeals court said it’s not certain how many temporary alimony payments were made, as well as the amounts for the months in question.

Other issues Wayne addressed in the appeals court included ordering Einspar to be the beneficiary in Wayne’s life insurance policy, how his net income will be calculated and “excessively delaying” the final judgment after the trial ended.

Considering all of these potential issues, Einspar took legal action and filed two cross-appeals suggesting that the trial court was incorrect when it came to “awarding credits to Wayne for payments he made towards the parties’ property after the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed” and “including a particular promissory note in equitable distribution.”

The Court’s Decision:

The appeals court decided to reverse and remanded the circuit court’s decision for the loans and temporary Florida alimony payments so the details can be determined.

About Florida Alimony:

No one receives an award of spousal support absent a demonstrated need, no matter the income of the other party. Likewise, there is often need on the part of one spouse for additional income to cover monthly expenses, but no ability to pay on the part of the other spouse. Both elements must be met before an award is made. Additionally, it is not the parties who determine their need, or their ability to pay, but rather the law that defines the critical elements of need, income, ability, duration, etc. The application of the law of alimony begins with a Florida Statute. The facts of an individual case are applied to each of these economic factors:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
  • All sources of income available to either party.
  • The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Case law is then applied to further define the meaning and intent of each of the factors, specifically, how the court has previously ruled on a given set of facts and circumstances.

For Example:

Duration of the marriage. There is no bright line rule as to how long a marriage must be before a court will award alimony. There is a legal “presumption” in favor of permanent alimony following a long-term marriage. Long-term is not clearly defined, but is more often than not, in excess of fifteen years. This factor alone is not determinative, and long-term marriage does not insure permanent alimony or any alimony at all. The economic factors must be considered as a whole.

Income available to the parties. Note the law does not state, the parties actual income. Income can be imputed, or attributed, to a spouse based on prior earnings, potential earning, continuous gifts from third parties or family members, or any variety of sources. Imputation of income plays a significant role in both the need and ability to pay analyses.

If you have questions about spousal support, or you’re considering appealing Florida alimony, please contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today.

Paid Parental Leave Plan Included in Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would create the first federal plan for paid parental leave, including fathers, in the U.S. Dan Merica reports for CNN and Danielle Kurtzleben reports for NPR.

President Trump’s 2018 budget will push for the creation of a federal paid parental leave program that will provide mothers and fathers after the birth or adoption of a child with six weeks of paid leave, a Trump administration official told CNN.

Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and top aide, was the force behind the new parental leave proposal, the official said. The Trump administration officially rolled out their 2018 budget on May 23rd. The paid family leave program will likely face stiff opposition on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have opposed any such program.

“For many families in our country, childcare is now the single largest expense — even more than housing,” Trump has said. “Our [parental leave] plan will bring relief to working and middle class families.”

Ivanka Trump has added that, “As a society we need to create policies that champion all parents, enabling the American family to thrive.”

When President Barack Obama pushed for paid family leave in 2015, both moderate and conservative Republicans criticized the plan.

Here’s the broad outline of what the budget says about the parental leave plan:

  • It’s a departure from what President Trump proposed on the campaign trail — back then, he called for paid maternity leave. This parental leave plan would also cover fathers and new adoptive parents.
  • Parental leave would be mandatory, but not uniform: “States would be required to provide six weeks of parental leave and the proposal gives states broad latitude to design and finance the program,” the administration wrote in its budget.
  • The program would cost about $8.5 billion over 10 years, and according to the budget would be entirely paid for — but that could require some states to raise taxes. Under the plan, the government would set minimum levels for states to maintain in their unemployment trust funds. And if they don’t hit that? “States that are currently below this minimum standard are expected to increase their State UI taxes to build up their trust fund balances,” the budget says. Applying these minimum levels to trust funds would pay for $12.9 billion of the plan, according to the administration.
  • The budget includes other savings: Eliminating improper unemployment insurance payments and implementing programs to get people back to work more quickly could potentially pay for $6.2 billion, which could offset some unemployment insurance taxes.
  • Still, there are a lot of blanks to fill in if this is really to be viable. The Trump administration has said that the details will still have to be negotiated, according to The New York Times, and that states will design their individual programs.

If you are a father with questions regarding your paternal rights or paternity leave, contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today. Our caring team is standing by ready to help.

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