Sarasota Family Law Attorney
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Areas of Practice
Custody / Visitation
Child Custody Modification
Contempt Hearings
Child Support
Child Support Modification
Support Enforcement
Nuptial Agreements
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Soler & Slack PA


Paternity is the legal term for being the father of a child. The establishment of paternity by a court has the effect of conferring legal rights and obligations upon a man that will last for the rest of his life.

A man can petition the court for a determination of paternity of a child when his paternity is in question. If the mother of a child raises the issue of the man being the father of a child he thought was his, he can ask the court to enter an order declaring that the child is his. By doing so, the father may then have legal rights to the child.

A determination of paternity may also be requested during pending child support litigation. If a man is being requested to pay child support, the man may challenge whether or not he is the father of the child and should be required to pay support for the child. If he is found to be the father, then he will be ordered to pay support; if he is not, then he will not be required to pay support.

Paternity can be established in a few ways. A man may assume responsibility for the child and voluntarily accept the rights and obligations of being a father as long as the mother does not challenge it. A child born in wedlock is presumed to be the child of the father and the man who signs a child's birth certificate may be presumed to be the father. However, these are just presumptions and can be overcome by a challenge by the man or the mother. A final determination of paternity is generally made by a scientific DNA test and the court will rule according to the results of that test.

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