In every state, including here in Florida, establishing paternity is an incredibly important part of the child custody process because it confirms a father's parental rights, which allow him to exert more control over custody and visitation arrangements and helps establish an obligation to pay child support as well.
One way that a father can establish paternity is by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity document. This can be done before or after a child is born and it is used in situations where the child's parents are not married. An Acknowledgment of Paternity document assumes that the man who signs the document is the child's father and therefore has parental rights over the child.
But what if the father suspects at some point after signing the document that the child may not be his? He might not deem it fair that he should have to provide financial support to someone else's child, which might leave him asking an important question: can you ever disestablish paternity in Florida?
The answer to this question is yes. According to Florida Statute 742.18, a man may petition the courts to disestablish paternity and therefore terminate his support obligations as well. Within the constraints of state law, a man may prove he is not the child's biological father by getting a DNA testing and submitting it along with his petition to disestablish paternity. This test must have been administered within 90 days of filing a petition though, otherwise it may not be considered by the courts prior to making a judgment.
Whether you're establishing or disestablishing paternity, our Brandon readers should be clear on one fact: these processes are governed by complex state laws. Without the proper legal background, a person could become easily confused by the process, making mistakes that might not be easy to correct down the road.
That's why, in most paternity and child custody cases, parents seek the help of a knowledgeable lawyer who can not only explain how the law applies in their situation but can help them avoid costly mistakes during the process as well.
Source: leg.state.fl.us, "Title XLIII, Chapter 742, Section 742.18," Accessed Oct. 28, 2014