A Family Lawyer Helping Men Establishing Paternity in St. Petersburg Courts
There are few more meaningful milestones in life than being a parent. Whether it’s your first time or you’re fortunate enough to have been a father to a few children, the experience tends to shift your perspective on life. That’s not to say that it isn’t occasionally challenging. Unfortunately, one of the issues you may face is the question of whether you are genuinely the father of a child.
This is a hurdle many men in St. Petersburg come up against. In most cases, it plays an important role in ensuring children and fathers are able to build and maintain relationships. As such, having an experienced family law attorney in your corner is an essential resource to influence your success.
This can be especially vital in Florida, where the family court system has a reputation for being unfairly biased in favor of women. The last thing you want is to overlook a key piece of evidence or aspect of representation that removes any doubt about whether or not you should be granted the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers are renowned custody attorneys in the St. Petersburg area, and we should be your very first call. Since 2014, the law firm of In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers has been selected every year by the National Trial Lawyers of America as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Florida. We’ve also been a featured member of The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys since 2019. No matter what the circumstances leading to your paternity suit are, our firm is dedicated to ensuring you get the best possible representation.
Why Might You Need to Pursue or Defend a Paternity Suit?
A paternity suit is rarely a straightforward matter. The good news is that an experienced In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers attorney can help you to effectively navigate the system and the process. That said, it isn’t an experience many men want to go through. So, it’s important to understand why making the time and the investment to pursue or defend a paternity suit is both necessary and positive.
Perhaps the most important incentive to commit to a paternity suit is that it is a clear gateway to custody arrangements. You may be divorcing the child’s mother, who is now claiming you are not the father after all. Whether this is legitimate or designed to “punish” you, this type of claim can see divorce courts or mediators fall down on the side of granting full custody to the mother, at least temporarily. The sooner and more fully you can prove your parenthood, the faster you and your child can benefit from your continued relationship.
In some instances, a paternity suit is largely the medium to arrange child support payments. As a caring father, you naturally want to ensure that your child is provided for to the fullest extent. In this instance, arranging a successful suit empowers you to do this. On the other hand, if you have genuine doubts that you are the father to a child, a paternity suit can ensure you aren’t paying for a child that you do not have a responsibility for.
How do St. Petersburg Courts Establish Paternity?
Given how important a paternity suit is to both parents and children’s lives, the St. Petersburg family courts will understandably take proving the case seriously. Different states will have their own standards for what types of evidence can be considered to establish fatherhood and Florida has specific requirements. Indeed, even the circumstances of the case can cause differences as to what is required. An In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers attorney can help you navigate the process in line with your individual needs and situation. Some of the evidence types in St. Petersburg paternity suits include:
Using the Birth Certificate
A birth certificate can be a powerful tool in paternity suits. It represents a legal document and both parents have an obligation to confirm that the information on paternity is correct. Indeed, if the parents are married, the husband’s name will be automatically entered onto the certificate unless a court finds otherwise. As such, this is one of the most important pieces of evidence a court will consider when determining paternity. If either parent calls paternity into question having already agreed to the details during the registration to be correct, the court will require further forms of evidence.
Using Genetic Testing
Most people today are familiar with genetic testing as a way to establish paternity. It also tends to be the most accurate way of establishing whether a party is the biological father. The process is usually relatively straightforward. If the mother claims that you are the father, the Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Program can arrange for a test to be completed at a recognized laboratory facility. The father, mother, and child will all need to attend an appointment and provide genetic samples. In most cases, this will take the form of a cheek swab. Testers will also check identification to ensure the correct party is providing the sample. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll receive the results. Unfortunately, if the mother denies you are the father, the process is a little more complex. You’ll need to work with your family law attorney and petition the courts for a genetic test order. However, this tends only to be granted if you can provide enough evidence — whether documentary or anecdotal, or both — to give good reason to challenge the mother’s position.
Using Alternative Forms of Evidence
Proving paternity isn’t just a matter of genetics for men in St. Petersburg. There are various situations in which you can be considered the father without having any biological connection to a child. For instance, you may have been the step-father to a child for years and your divorce to the mother threatens the relationship you’ve developed. This isn’t an easy situation and the court will need to have evidence to support your claim to a bond with the child. This can take the form of notarized affidavits from teachers, religious leaders, and other key members of your local community. Friends and close family may also be expected to provide testimony in court. Your claims can also be supported by documents such as school applications that list you as the child’s legal guardian or financial records that show you’ve consistently provided for the child in question.
Collaborate with Paternity Counsel for Men in St. Petersburg
Establishing paternity is essential for fathers and children to continue benefiting from mutually loving relationships. Not to mention that it ensures that the right party is providing financial and emotional support to a child. As such, a paternity suit is an invaluable tool for many St. Petersburg men. Your first step should be to reach out to a family law firm that is dedicated to ensuring fathers are fairly and effectively represented. In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers have the experience and skills to help you navigate the often complex Florida family court system, and we’ll do so with compassion. No matter what your circumstances are, we’ll commit our time, energy, and knowledge to ensure you and your children remain meaningfully connected.