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Paternity gives rights to the mother, the father and the child. You may need experienced legal representation in this complex area of law to establish or challenge paternity, seek or modify child support, adopt your child, terminate your parental rights, safeguard your financial interests or establish your right to certain benefits.


Paternity actions and paternity lawsuits can be extremely complicated, but the experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at Davis, Smith & Jean LLC can protect your interests while guiding you through the paternity process.

A child does not have a legal father if the mother is not married when the child is born. Paternity must be established for the child. According to the Florida Department of Revenue, there are benefits to establishing paternity:

  • Access to Information regarding family medical history.
  • The child knows who his or her father is.
  • Placement of the father’s name on the birth certificate.
  • Health or life insurance from either parent, if available.
  • Financial child support as well as medical support from both parents.
  • The ability to receive Social Security or veteran’s benefits, military allowances and inheritances.

A judge can establish paternity by court order. The court is asked to hear the case and a judge decides if paternity is established. The man is referred to as the “alleged father” until paternity is proven. 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 make him the legal father without him being there. The court may order a genetic test and one or both parents may be ordered to pay for the test and any other court costs. 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.

Paternity is determined by an order. If the parties prefer not to go to court, the mother, the alleged father and the child or children must provide genetic samples that will be tested to determine paternity. If the test results prove that the man believed to be the father is the biological father, our firm will complete an Administrative Order of Paternity and ask the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. This order has the same effect as a paternity judgement issued by the court and can be used as a basis to determine child support, Social Security or veterans’ benefits, and other rights and benefits.

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