The Paternity laws of Florida have two clear benefits:
1) They allow parents to participate in their children's lives when the other parent is unwilling to cooperate.
2) They can help parents receive the support they are entitled to.
In order for a parent to establish an award of support or time sharing schedule, the Court must declare that the father is in fact the father. Signing an acknowledgment of paternity in the hospital can ultimately establish parental rights, however, things can get tricky if your child is born outside of marriage. A father technically has no parental rights if he has not married the mother and a court has not determined paternity. While this is somewhat common knowledge, this information happens to be one of the most commonly misused pieces of advice.
Just because a father does not technically have legal rights, does not mean he should necessarily be ignored or marginalized. The real question should be, "what is in the child's best interest?"
It is presumed that it is in a child's best interest to have a substantial and meaningful relationship with both parents regardless of whether a Court has determined paternity, unless contact with that parent is unhealthy? Both parents are expected to act in the best interests of their offspring.
If one parent unreasonably withholds the child from the other parent, it could negatively affect his or her case. The Court can consider a parent's unwillingness to foster a relationship with the other parent in making decisions with respect to time sharing and parental responsibility. If you believe it is not in the best interest of your child to have a substantial relationship with the other parent, be sure to explain your position to your attorney and emphasize your reasoning.
As for Child Support, there is a clear duty in Florida for parents to support their offspring, regardless of whether they are actively participating the child's life. The Florida legislature has created a formula to determine what a parent should pay in support for his or her children. This is based upon a number of factors, including the income of the parties, number of overnights each parent has with the children, and expenses such as day care and health insurance.
The Court is able to deviate from the calculated amount by 5% without giving explanation, however, for deviations in excess of 5%, the Court must make specific findings of fact, such as extraordinary recurring medical expenses. If you believe your child support should deviate from the standard amount, make sure you discuss this with your attorney and map out a plan for proving this matter before the Court.