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St. Petersburg Divorce & Family Lawyers

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Paternity & Father’s Rights

Understanding Father’s Rights & Responsibilities

When unmarried parents have a child, the father has no legal custody rights unless he asserts them through a paternity action. However, he may still be obligated to pay child support. If you are an unmarried father, protect your parental rights by consulting with an experienced Florida paternity lawyer.

If you are an unmarried father –or if a woman with whom you had a relationship claims you fathered a child and wants support—prompt, decisive action can be critical. Under Florida’s “Natural Guardian” statute, Fla. Stat. 744.301, the only way to establish legal custody rights and other rights to involvement with your child is to file an action for paternity. All too often, fathers rely on informal agreements to maintain contact with their children and avoid problems with child support. This can lead to serious regrets and financial liabilities.

Assistance Obtaining Paternal Rights

At Emerson & Valentine, P.A., we represent fathers and mothers in paternity actions in Pinellas County, Florida, and throughout the surrounding region. We help fathers “activate” their rights through paternity actions and help couples establish clear time-sharing and support obligations. By offering honest, upfront counsel, we seek to help you assert your rights and maintain your relationship with your child.

Determining Paternity

In common language, paternity is a test used to determine the biological father of a child. But in a civil law proceeding, it is used to resolve custody and child support issues for unmarried parents. Paternity issues are common in cases involving child support, but can also be a factor in adoption, inheritance, custody, visitation and health care.

If you are asked to pay child support for a child you aren’t sure is yours, it is important to determine paternity now. If DNA testing proves that you are the father, you may be liable for back child support on payments that have not been made. Contact us for more information.

Protecting Your Relationship with Legal Action

Emerson & Valentine, P.A. understands that as a father, a man has a right to spend time with his child and take part in the child’s upbringing. However, this may not be an option if he has not legally asserted his parental rights. Once the rights are established, if the mother of the child is upset or has a disagreement with the father, she can’t choose to force him out of the child’s life. Establishing paternity can also keep the mother from relocating with the child if this would adversely affect the child and the father’s time-share rights.

If you are a father and not married to your child’s mother, it is important that you contact a paternity lawyer to assert your parental rights. Establishing paternity legally could also greatly reduce your child support obligation. Cody Emerson, Esq. has experience representing unmarried fathers in paternity actions. Emerson & Valentine, P.A. will help you take the necessary steps to protect your rights to interact with your child and to ensure that you will play an active role in your child’s future.

Consultation on Parental Rights with an Experienced Family Lawyer

At Emerson & Valentine, P.A., we are upfront and honest about what parents can expect and help them form realistic goals. Contact us or call us at (727) 203-5576 today for a consultation to discuss your case in more detail with one of our family law attorneys.