Establishing legal paternity is a key component when it comes to child custody and child support agreements. Whoever is determined to be the legal father will have all the rights and responsibilities of a father. Some of these rights and responsibilities include requirement to pay child support, coordinating with the child’s mother in a joint custody agreement, sole custody, visitation agreements and more. In some cases, there is a question as to a child’s rightful legal father. When you are looking to establish paternity, turn to a Panama City paternity lawyer. Determining arrangements for your children presents a unique challenge for any parent. Call our firm to discuss the option of paternity testing and how it relates to child custody and child support.

Determining paternity establishes rights and responsibilities for the legal father, while also allotting rights and benefits for the child. For example, a child can know who the legal father is, the father’s name will appear on the child’s birth certificate, the child can have access to their father’s family medical history and the child can have access to support from both parents such as financial support and medical support. Only a legal parent is allowed to obtain a child support order, visitation order and be able to make decisions in the life of the child. These are just a few benefits to establishing paternity.

Five Ways to Establish Paternity

According to Florida Law, there are five ways to establish paternity:

1) Marriage: The parents are married to each other when the child is born 2) Acknowledgement of Paternity: The unmarried couple signs a legal document in the hospital when the child is born, or later 3) Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing: Paternity is ordered if a genetic test proves fatherhood 4) Court Order: A judge orders paternity in court 5) Legitimation: The mother and natural father get married to each other after the child is born and update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics

Establishing Paternity Through Genetic Testing

In some cases, the best course of action is to conduct scientific testing to determine the genetic father of the child. The most common method for DNA testing in these types of cases is to take cell samples (typically a swab of the inside of the person’s cheek) from the supposed father, the mother and the child. These tests are then compared to see if the man believed to be the father matches the DNA of the child. Genetic testing can be ordered by a judge or otherwise required through an Administrative Order. In most cases where the paternity of a child is called into question, genetic testing is recommended.