Orlando Paternity Lawyer

Establishing paternity is often necessary to pursue your rights to custody, visitation, and child support. Choose the O’Mara Law Group when you need a compassionate Orlando paternity lawyer. Our experienced attorneys specialize in paternity cases, allowing you to protect your rights and your child’s best interests. With personalized strategies and clear communication, we navigate the complexities of family law. Contact us today for a consultation and secure a brighter future for you and your child.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara

Content last updated on: May 24, 2024

When a mother has a baby, it is obvious that she is the child’s biological and rightful mother. For fathers, it’s not always as straightforward. While married fathers are presumed to be a child’s legal parent, unmarried fathers are not. Thus, unmarried fathers must establish paternity to assert their legal parental rights, including custody and visitation. Conversely, mothers seeking child support must establish the unmarried father’s paternity to pursue their rights.

If you face a paternity issue in Orlando, Florida, finding suitable legal representation is vital to protect your rights and ensure your child’s best interests. Establishing paternity can be a complex and emotionally challenging process, but with the support of a skilled Orlando paternity lawyer, you can navigate through these legal intricacies with confidence.

At the O’Mara Law Group, we proudly offer the services of our experienced and dedicated Orlando attorneys specializing in family law matters. We understand the importance of resolving paternity disputes and are committed to meeting every client’s individual needs.

Reasons to Establish Paternity in Florida

Establishing paternity protects the legal rights of both parents and the child. Here are key reasons to verify paternity in Florida:

Rights of the Father Once Paternity Is Established

Once paternity is confirmed, fathers in Florida have legal options to protect their rights concerning their children. These rights include the following:

Rights of the Mother Once Paternity Is Established

Mothers also have specific rights once paternity is established in Florida. These rights include the following:

How to Establish Paternity in Florida

Several methods are available for establishing paternity in the Sunshine State. They are the following:

Acknowledgment of Paternity

One way to establish paternity in Florida is through the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. This process involves both parents signing a legal document acknowledging the father’s paternity, then filing it with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics. Once properly executed, it becomes legal documentation of paternity.


The husband is presumed to be the father if the child is born during a valid marriage. In these cases, paternity is automatically established, and no further action is necessary. However, if there is any doubt about the husband’s paternity, additional steps may be required to establish legal paternity. One such step is DNA testing.

DNA Testing

DNA testing is a highly accurate method to determine biological parentage and is commonly used to establish paternity. Genetic testing involves collecting samples from inside a person’s cheek using a cotton swab or drawing blood. The sample may come from the child, the alleged father, or the mother.

After the samples are gathered, they are sent to a laboratory for testing. DNA analysis compares specific genetic markers to determine if there is a match between the alleged father and the child. The laboratory technicians examine these DNA profiles to assess the likelihood of paternity.

The time it takes to receive the DNA test results for paternity in Florida can vary. Generally, the process takes a few weeks from collecting the samples until the results are delivered. However, this timeframe depends on the laboratory’s workload, the complexity of the case, and any potential need for additional testing.

Once the DNA test results are available, they are provided to the involved parties. The results indicate the probability of paternity, usually expressed as a percentage, which serves as conclusive evidence in establishing paternity.

Does a Name on a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Florida?

In Florida, simply having the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate does not establish legal paternity. While it may create a presumption of paternity, a listed name does not guarantee legal rights and obligations. A father questioning the child’s paternity must file a civil action in circuit court, where a judge will determine paternity.

Birth certificates are often filled out based on the information provided by the mother or other individuals at the time of birth. Sometimes, the information may be inaccurate or contested, especially if several potential fathers are involved or when the biological father’s identity is uncertain.

The Impact of Florida's New Paternity Laws

In July 2023, legislative changes went into effect that significantly impacted paternal rights, especially for unwed fathers. Previously, even with a father’s rights lawyer in Orlando, fathers could find themselves struggling to establish their right to equal time with their child. Unwed fathers, in particular, might receive much less time with their children. The new law, however, protects fathers’ rights and creates an opportunity for them to be more involved in their children’s lives.

1. Streamlined Process for Establishing Paternity

Under the new “Good Dad” law, either parent can now request that the courts determine parental responsibility and child support from the time a child is born. The law is intended to streamline that process for unwed fathers who show an interest in participating in their newborns’ lives.

Instead of the old system, which required the legal establishment of paternity before setting child support or determining parenting time, the new law allows for all those things to take place simultaneously: determining paternity, setting child support, and creating a parenting plan. The new law means fathers potentially have more time with their child from birth.

SB 1146 – Amended Language: “After the birth of a child, a parent may request a determination of parental responsibility and child support and for the creation of a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. . . . The mother of a child born out of wedlock and a father who has paternity established . . . are the natural guardians of the child and are entitled and subject to the rights and responsibilities of parents.”

2. Equal Rights for Unwed Parents

One of the cornerstones of the new Florida law is the establishment of equal rights for unwed parents. Once paternity is established, both parents are considered the natural guardians of the child, and each parent is given the same rights and responsibilities over the child. Previously, courts were more likely to favor mothers—especially in cases where the parents were not married prior to birth. The new law balances the scales.

Once paternity is established, fathers may have the same protections offered to mothers, including the right to equal parenting time, including:

More Time With the Child

With equal rights, fathers may have the right to spend more time with their children from birth, even when they are not married to the mother. Both parents have equal rights to spend time with the child, so parenting plans may be more likely to include equal time for fathers.

Changed Child Support Obligations

While fathers can still take on child support obligations, the fact that they have more parenting time can reduce the burden of support paid directly to the mother. In other words, fathers may end up paying more expenses directly since they’ll spend more time caring for the child.

Deeper Bonds

Ultimately, more time with their children from birth means that fathers are more likely to have deeper bonds with their children. Prior to the new law, when mothers were awarded more parenting time, some fathers struggled to form the same bond as the primary parent. Now, however, fathers may experience a greater sense of connection. A deeper bond with their parents can also enhance overall mental health in children.

3. Enhanced Legal Protections for Unwed Fathers

Previously, Florida law allowed unwed mothers to make many of the decisions that are part of bringing up a child, particularly before the full establishment of legal paternity. The new law, however, provides enhanced legal protections for unwed fathers, including:

These legal protections offer fathers considerably more rights over their children than the former law. Working with our paternity attorneys in Orlando can help fathers better understand their specific rights. Our legal team will work to ensure that those rights are protected.

The Impact of the New Paternity Law on Unwed Fathers

Aspect Before July 1, 2023 After July 1, 2023
Legal Process Separate proceedings for paternity, custody, and child support. Streamlined process, including establishing paternity, creating a custody arrangement, arranging a parenting plan, and determining child support simultaneously.
Parental Rights Favored mothers. Fathers faced hurdles in establishing rights, including custody or visitation. Equal rights for unwed mothers and fathers from birth.
Guardianship Unwed mothers were often automatically established as natural guardians. Both parents are natural guardians of the child.
Parental Responsibilities The mother was generally assumed to have more responsibilities, including more parenting time. Equal distribution of responsibilities.
Legal Protections Few legal options for fathers if the mother chooses not to involve them. Enhanced legal protections provide fathers with more options when it comes to custody, visitation, and parenting decisions.

How Do You Get a Court-Ordered Paternity Test?

When disputing paternity, or if there is a need for legal confirmation of parentage, a court-ordered paternity test may be necessary.

The test is conducted under the supervision of the court and is typically admissible as evidence. Your legal team presents your case at the court hearing. The judge determines whether a court-ordered paternity test is necessary. If so, the court orders DNA testing at an approved facility. The test results are legally binding and can impact child custody, visitation, and child support.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Paternity in Florida?

If the mother wishes to establish paternity, there is generally no statute of limitations. She can file a paternity action at any time. However, taking action as soon as possible is advisable to avoid any challenges related to evidence and the passage of time.

A statute of limitations does limit how long the father has to establish paternity. In Florida, the father has four years from the child’s age of majority to initiate a paternity action. Certain exceptions can extend the statute of limitations in paternity cases, such as:

How Long Does It Take To Establish Paternity in Florida?

The timeline to establish paternity depends on many factors. Under the new Shared Parental Responsibility After Establishment of Paternity law, the process for establishing paternity has been streamlined, potentially reducing the time needed to resolve paternity disputes. However, the same factors that previously impacted paternity cases can still delay the process.

The Specific Circumstances of the Paternity Case

If both parties agree that the father is the parent of the child and there is no question about biological paternity, the case can often proceed more smoothly. On the other hand, in cases where paternity is disputed, the parents may have to wait for genetic test results to clearly establish a biological relationship with the child. This testing can extend the time needed to settle paternity disputes.

Cooperation Between Parents

When both parents are willing to work together and have the best interests of the child in mind, the process of establishing paternity, setting parenting time, and establishing parental rights goes much more smoothly. While the new arrangement generally assumes that both parents should have equal time with their child, delays can arise if one parent does not provide relevant information, refuses to participate in genetic testing, or is otherwise uncooperative.

The Court System

While the Shared Parental Responsibility After Establishment of Paternity law is designed to streamline the legal process, the courts can still slow things down. Overloaded dockets and slow scheduling can make it more difficult to move a case through the court system and establish paternity without delay.

Potential Delays

In some cases, parties involved in a paternity case can request a continuance or extension, which will extend the timeline and delay the establishment of a parenting plan. Even in cases where both parties are willing to work together, a continuance can increase the time needed to reach an agreement.

Complex Evidence

Ultimately, the court’s primary focus is on ensuring each child’s best interests. The new law dictates that courts should consider the interests of both parents equally rather than simply giving primary custody and parenting rights to unwed mothers by default. However, courts must also carefully consider all evidence to determine what will ultimately be best for the child. This commitment to fairness, accuracy, and protecting the child can delay the establishment of a parenting plan and child support arrangements.

In many cases, it can take several months to legally establish biological paternity and set up a child support arrangement and parenting plan that reflect the interests of both parents, as well as the child’s. While this period of time can be challenging, the new law’s commitment to upholding paternal rights provides fathers with more options when it comes to protecting their bond with their children. Our Orlando paternity lawyers can help both fathers and mothers navigate the process and ensure that their legal rights are protected under the requirements of the new law.

Safeguard Your and Your Child's Rights in Florida

When establishing paternity in Florida, it is essential to safeguard both your and your child’s rights. An attorney at the O’Mara Law Group will provide you with the necessary guidance, explain the legal process, and advocate for your rights throughout the proceedings.

Your attorney will help you familiarize yourself with the rights and responsibilities of establishing paternity. They will also assist in collecting relevant documents, such as birth records, correspondence, and evidence supporting your claim or dispute regarding paternity. These documents can be valuable in building your case and protecting your rights.

Also, it is essential to cooperate with the legal proceedings by doing the following:

Complying with the legal process demonstrates your commitment to establishing paternity and acting in the child’s best interests.

Consult with an Orlando Paternity Lawyer

The O’Mara Law Group offers compassionate and experienced legal representation for paternity matters in Orlando, Florida. With our expertise in family law and commitment to protecting your rights and your child’s best interests, your paternity case is in capable hands. If you need a skilled Orlando paternity lawyer, contact the O’Mara Law Group to schedule a consultation today!

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