Articles Posted in Paternity

When people in romantic relationships decide to part, they will typically go their separate ways. If they have a child together, though, they may have to seek intervention from the courts to determine their parental rights and obligations. In any custody matter, the Florida courts must rule in the best interest of the child. In doing so, however, they must uphold the parties’ right to due process, as explained in a recent Florida custody action. If you have questions about what steps you can take to safeguard your relationship with your child, it is wise to contact a Miami child custody attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the parties began their relationship in August 2019 and had a child in June 2021. Following the child’s birth, the mother returned to Miami, and the relationship between the parties ended. The father initiated a paternity action, seeking a 50-50 timesharing arrangement. During the hearing on the motion for temporary relief, the trial court introduced the concept of a two-week rotating schedule, which was not previously raised in the pleadings.

Allegedly, the court considered this schedule despite objections from the mother and her counsel, who requested time to discuss the alternative and present witnesses. Nevertheless, the trial court ordered the two-week rotating schedule based on its determination of the child’s best interests. The mother appealed. Continue reading ›

In Florida child support cases, the courts typically refer to statutory guidelines to determine what constitutes an appropriate obligation. While the courts are permitted to deviate from the guidelines, if they do so, they generally must demonstrate that the deviation is warranted. In a recent Florida opinion issued in a child support matter, the court discussed what constitutes appropriate grounds for a deviation. If you have questions about what steps you can take to protect your interests in a child support case, it is advisable to speak with a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother filed a lawsuit seeking to establish sought to ascertain paternity. She also requested child support and other relief. The father responded pro se to the petition but did not file a counterpetition. After a DNA test confirmed the father’s biological paternity, the trial court issued a final judgment establishing his legal and biological paternity and ordered him to pay child support. The mother appealed on the grounds that the child support obligation was less than half of the amount recommended under the statutory guidelines.

Deviation from Child Support Guidelines

On appeal, the court reversed the child support ruling, noting that the trial court did not cite sufficient reasons for deviation. While the child support guidelines are clearly rebuttable, if a court deviates more than five percent from them, it must set forth either in writing or on the record why an award that aligned with the guideline amount would be inappropriate or unjust. Continue reading ›

Generally, when a child is born to a married couple, both parents have the right to care and custody of the child. Pursuant to Florida law, however, when a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is deemed the child’s natural guardian and has the right to sole custody and care of the child absent a court order stating otherwise. Notably, as discussed in a recent Florida case, the purported father of a child born outside of a marriage does not have parental rights even if they file an acknowledgment of paternity that goes unchallenged. If you need assistance handling a paternity dispute, you should consult a Miami paternity attorney to assess your options for protecting your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the parties lived together following the child’s birth in 2014. The father signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity at the child’s birth in accordance with Florida law; the mother did not contest the acknowledgment. However, there were no further orders regarding the father’s parental rights. In 2022, after the parents separated, the mother moved with the child to her parents’ home, which was located about 20 miles away, and enrolled the child in school there.

It is reported that the father filed an emergency motion to compel the mother to enroll the child in a school in the city where the parties previously resided. The court granted the motion, and the mother appealed. Continue reading ›

It goes without saying that people do not have to be romantically involved in order to conceive a child, and in some instances, friends will choose to embark on the journey of parenthood together. When people who are not married or a couple use unorthodox means to conceive a child, it may confound the courts with regard to defining parental rights, however. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, in which the court overruled a trial court order denying a father’s request for timesharing due to the fact that the child in question was conceived via artificial insemination. If you want to establish your right to custody or timesharing, it is in your best interest to talk to a Miami child custody attorney about your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father, who were friends, decided to conceive a child via an at-home artificial insemination process. A few years after the child was born, the father filed a petition to establish paternity and to have timesharing rights. In the mother’s answer to the petition, she acknowledged the father’s paternity and agreed that the court should establish a parenting plan and a timesharing schedule.

Allegedly, the trial court entered a temporary order granting the father timesharing rights. Eighteen months after the filing of the petition, the trial court held a hearing, after which the court issued a final judgment in which it noted that the father had been a constant presence in the child’s life and that both parties put the child’s interests ahead of their own and were flexible with regard to time sharing. Regardless, the trial court denied the father’s petition on the grounds that Florida’s law regarding assisted reproductive technology barred it from granting the father’s request. The father appealed. Continue reading ›

Many parties have children outside of the context of marriage, and while in some cases paternity is not at issue, in others, legal action is necessary to define a child’s parentage. Once a man has been legally established as the father of a child, pursuant to Florida law, it is difficult to disestablish paternity. While the law allows fathers to reverse course on paternity in some cases, the same is not necessarily true for mothers, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling. If you have questions regarding paternity and your parental rights, you should contact a trusted Miami paternity lawyer to evaluate your options.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the parties conceived the child in question in April 2014. They subsequently entered into a stipulation confirming the father’s paternity, and a court ratified it via order in 2016. Later that year, the mother filed a petition to relocate to Colorado with the child. The trial court denied the motion, and the child remained in Florida with the father and had visitation with the mother in the summer.

Reportedly, in 2017, the mother stated that she remembered an encounter with another man around the time the child was conceived. A DNA test determined the second man to be the child’s father within 99.99% certainty. The mother then moved to disestablish the father’s paternity pursuant to Florida Statute 742.18 and other provisions. The trial court granted summary judgment in her favor, and the father appealed. Continue reading ›

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When it is not clear who the father of a child is, both the child’s mother and any potential father have the right to file a paternity action. A determination of paternity not only opens the door for the father to seek parental rights like custody of the child, but it also allows the court to impose obligations on the father, like the duty to pay child support. If a court’s judgment of paternity fails to include necessary information, though, it may be reversed, as shown in a recent Florida ruling set forth in a paternity case. If you have questions regarding establishing parental rights or enforcing parental obligations, it is advisable to meet with an experienced Florida paternity lawyer to evaluate your options.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the mother instituted a paternity action to establish the identity of the father of her child. The court ultimately issued a final judgment of paternity, naming the father. The mother appealed, citing four issues. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling as to two of the issues without comment. As to the remaining two issues, however, the court found in favor of the mother. As such, it reversed the final judgment and remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Final Judgments in Paternity Matters

The two issues the appellate court addressed on appeal were whether the trial court erred in neglecting to include a parenting plan in the record and failing to attach the child support guidelines worksheet to the final order. The court noted that the father conceded that these documents were forgotten due to a scrivener’s error. The appellate court explained that, pursuant to Florida law, it must reverse an order granted child support if the child support guidelines worksheet is not attached to the final judgment. Continue reading ›

Generally, a man that is the biological father of a child can seek parental rights.  Relatively recent advances in reproductive technology can result in situations in which it is necessary to determine whether a man is a child’s father or merely a sperm donor. For example, in a recent Florida case, a former couple called on a court to determine whether a man had paternity rights over a child born via IVF. If you need assistance with a paternity matter, it is advisable to speak to a Florida paternity lawyer to determine what steps you can take to protect your interests.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the father and the mother were involved in a romantic relationship, during which they entered into a contract to have a child via in vitro fertilization. The IVF transfer took place in September 2019, but the parties ended their relationship a month later. The child was born in June 2020. Shortly thereafter, the father filed a paternity lawsuit seeking parental rights on the grounds that he and the mother were a commissioning couple as defined by Florida law.

Allegedly, the mother moved to dismiss his petition, arguing that he was merely a sperm donor. During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, the trial court sought evidence from both parties without notice, after which it found the parties were a commissioning couple and granted the father parental rights. The mother appealed, arguing that the trial court violated her due process rights by holding an evidentiary hearing without notice. Continue reading ›

This past January was an important anniversary to many gay and lesbian couples in Florida. Five years ago on January 6, same-sex couples were, for the first time, legally able to marry in the Sunshine State. With that event, and with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling the following June, it might be easy to assume that it’s now all smooth sailing for LGBT families in Florida. However, that isn’t always the case, especially if there are children involved. If you are a gay or lesbian couple who has minor children, there may still be potential pitfalls, which is why it is still very wise to consult an experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney about your situation.

Last year, a gay couple lost their case seeking to have both of them recognized as their children’s fathers. They had added two children to their family through the use of an egg donor and a surrogate mother in Canada, and their high court told them that only the children’s biological father could be recognized as a legal parent. The other partner would “have to apply for special permission to become their adoptive father,” according to a report from thelocal.it.

That case happened in Italy, not in Florida. However, recent rulings from Florida courts also raise the possibility of problems for gay and lesbian couples with children. Back in 2018, the Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling that, while not involving gay or lesbian parents, could have a profound impact on LGBT families.

Continue reading ›

Whether you’re just a fan of the works of William Shakespeare, or are having flashbacks to high school English literature class, you may recall the famed lines,

O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

from the play Romeo and Juliet. The reality is, for many people, there’s a lot in a name, especially a last name. It represents heritage, ethnicity and familial ties, among other important things.

So, what can you do if your child’s other parent wants to change your child’s last name to reflect his last name? Actually, there are many things you can do, because the law in Florida creates some fairly specific hurdles a parent must clear in order for a judge to order a name change. One of the biggest relates to proving certain things related to the welfare of your child. Demonstrating that the other parent didn’t clear these hurdles may entitle you to an order keeping the child’s name unchanged. As always, whether you’re engaged in a name battle or some other legal dispute regarding your child, be sure you’re getting advice and representation from a skilled South Florida family law attorney.

The child of L.H. was at the center of such a name battle. L.H.’s child’s last name on the birth certificate was H., the same as the mother’s. Sometime later, the mother and M.B. appeared in court on a paternity action. Both M.B. and L.H. stipulated that M.B. was the father and that M.B. should be added to the child’s birth certificate to reflect his paternity.

Continue reading ›

You may have heard phrases like “due process” or “equal protection” on the news or in a courtroom TV show, but you may not imagine them having a substantial impact on your divorce case. You may assume that your divorce case will involve, primarily, an assessment of the factual evidence each side presents. That is not always true, however. Any family law case, like any other case, can turn on issues of fact or issues of law, including constitutional law. That’s why, no matter how straightforward or basic you may think your family law case is, you should be sure to retain the services of an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

One recent South Florida case is an example of this concept. Zanja and Richard’s case started as a straightforward paternity, timesharing, and child support matter. The court originally scheduled the hearing for one day. As is true in many cases, this pair’s hearing ran long. At the end of the first day of the hearing, the judge scheduled a second day for the continuation of the hearing. At the start of that second day, the court indicated that both sides would have a chance to present their cases-in-chief.

At the end of the second day, the parties still weren’t finished. However, this time, the judge did not allow the hearing to expand to another day. The judge ordered that, due to time limitations, each side would simply wrap up by presenting their closing arguments, and the judge would rule on what had been presented. There was one major problem:  the mother still hadn’t had the opportunity to present her case-in-chief yet.