Local Fort Myers Lawyer with 31 Years of State and Federal Litigation Experience
If you are currently facing a paternity issue in Fort Myers, let the Law Office of John D. Mills, P.A. give you a hand. Whether you and the alleged father are ready to sign a voluntary acknowledgement or anticipate going to court to handle the matter, our firm can represent you. We have been practicing family law for 31 years and are deeply familiar with the local attorneys and clerks system. Let’s get your paternity matter sorted as soon as possible.
Call our firm at (239) 347-9932 or contact us to get started.
Florida law assumes upon a child’s birth that the father is the mother's husband. If the couple is not married, though, paternity must be legally established, either voluntarily or through a court order.
In the case where the mother and alleged father both agree on who the child's father is, they should sign a "Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity" form, which legally acknowledges that the man signing the form is the child's legal father. This acknowledgement is finalized 60 days after signing, and neither parent can revoke the acknowledgement after these 60 days. In order to revoke it, the parent must prove in court that they signed under extreme force from the other party or fraud.
Establishing Paternity – Court Order
If either parent does not agree voluntarily to acknowledge paternity, they can proceed to court to establish paternity. Any of the following individuals or agencies can initiate such a court process:
- the child's mother;
- the man who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father;
- the child through a legal representative; or
- the Florida Department of Child Support Services.
Generally, paternity cases should start in the circuit court for the county where either the mother or alleged father resides. The court will likely order a genetic test for the mother, child, and the alleged father as part of the process.
Note that if a paternity case is started in court, the judge may also make orders relating to:
- child support;
- the child’s health insurance;
- parenting time;
- decision-making authority over the child; and
- payment of either party's attorney's fees and court costs.
If the judge does not specify orders for parenting time or decision-making for the child, the mother will be assumed to have all the parenting time and sole decision-making authority.
Reasons for Establishing Paternity
There are several reasons a mother and/or father may seek to establish paternity. For one, it is often favorable for the child to grow up with a father’s involvement, especially if the mother is juggling numerous other day-to-day responsibilities.
Practically speaking, establishing paternity validates the child’s legal relationship with their father, thus entitling them to access to certain benefits from their father’s side. For instance, if the father is a veteran or unemployed, the child may receive certain government benefits from their father’s programs, as well as workers’ compensation or Social Security benefits. The child may also be legally entitled to inherit the father's estate.
Establishing paternity may also grant the alleged father valuable time with their child that they may have been denied from the mother due to a rocky relationship. If the couple is unmarried, the alleged father may need court orders to petition for their right to parenting time and joint decision-making authority concerning the child's healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. An unmarried father cannot obtain these parental rights without proving their paternity.
John D. MillsAttorneyI'm John D. Mills, and I am dedicated to aggressively pursuing the best possible outcome for my clients - inside and outside of court.
Monica S. AdkinsLegal AssistantMonica Skinner Adkins is a 5th generation Lee County residence. She was born and raised in Fort Myers and graduated from North Fort Myers High School and attended Edison Community College for two years.
Sheryl A. RiebenackParalegalSheryl A. Riebenack, a Florida Registered Paralegal, has worked with the firm since 2010. She has over 40 years of experience in marital & family law. She serves our clients with compassion and respect.
Whether you are a mother or the alleged father seeking to establish paternity, the Law Office of John D. Mills, P.A. can help you. If you and the other parent are on amicable terms, we can work together with you to submit a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form to secure your child’s legal relationship with the alleged father. Alternatively, if you need to go court to settle the paternity matter, our firm can represent you steadfastly. We have extensive litigation experience in the realm of family law and can help you settle your paternity matter in Fort Myers.
Contact the Law Office of John D. Mills, P.A. at (239) 347-9932 to get started today.
We can effectively defend your rights and fight for your best interests at each stage of the legal process.