Interviewer: Do you work with paternity cases?
In Florida, Paternity Is Established by Who Signs the Birth Certificate, Which Can Be Retracted within 6 Months
Wendy Doyle: I do handle paternity cases all the time. Paternity is an issue in every case. Florida Statute 742 is a paternity statute. Your first allegation in your petition is whether paternity has been established. Paternity is established once the father signs the birth certificate. The father has 6 months to retract and say “I’m not the father.”
Once that time runs out, paternity has been established. You would have to then disestablish, which now there is a new statute that was enacted years ago that allows for that. Back in the day, it was difficult to set aside paternity once it’s established.
The Father Has the Right to Ask for a Paternity Test If Paternity Has Not Been Established
If a father has not signed a birth certificate and paternity has otherwise not been established by an administrative child support order or a child support order assigning birth certificate, then the father has the right ask for a DNA test.
Do You Need to Hire a Paternity Attorney?
Attorney Wendy Doyle represents clients who need a paternity attorney in Pasco, Hernando and Pinellas County, Florida. Read more about Establishing Paternity in Florida or contact Attorney Wendy Doyle today for a free consultation.
Disestablishment of Paternity,Florida
Sometimes a man goes to the hospital after a birth and is caught up in the excitement. A woman has said, “You’re the father.” He agrees, “I’m the father,” and signs the birth certificate. Ten years down the road, wait a minute, this child doesn’t even look like me. Once it’s established, under the disestablishment statute, you have to obtain evidence. It gets complicated.
Disestablishment of Paternity Is a Complicated and Difficult Process
I have been able to set aside paternity in a couple of cases, but it’s complicated and it’s difficult. The court has the right to say no, I’m not going to disestablish paternity. If the father has already held out a release with the child, is supporting this child, it may not be in the child’s best interest to disestablish paternity. The court has the right to say no. I would be careful.
The disestablishment statute allows them an opportunity to come in and disestablish, but it doesn’t mean they can disestablish. You have an opportunity, but you have to have all the facts.
It has to be in the child’s best interest. You have to have correct evidence. You can’t have a home DNA kit. It does allow the opportunity to go in before a judge, as opposed to previous decades where statute did not exist.
The Role of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF)
Interviewer: In cases involving the Department of Children and Family Services, do the cases concentrate more on the separation from a family because the family is not suitable for taking care of a child?
Wendy Doyle: DCF cases come about usually because of some form of abuse. A child is seen loitering down the street so neighbors call. They know that there’s drug use going on. But sometimes it’s the other parent that calls because they’re being vindictive and they want custody.
They lost custody. Now, they’re going to call up and needlessly file a complaint. The state has the right to come in and see what’s going on and ask for drug tests to determine if drugs are being used by the parent. If you don’t submit to a drug test, it’s considered a positive. The state of Florida has a lot of power with children. That’s what people do not realize.
If DCF Develops Probable Cause, They Have the Right to Remove Children from a Household
They have the authority to remove your children if there’s probable cause. The judge will go by that to protect the children. You have to prove otherwise to restore the family.
Child Custody, Child Support, Paternity Lawyer Serving Hudson, New Port Richey, Tampa Bay
Wendy Doyle at Doyle & McCabe is a family law attorney serving clients in Hudson, New Port Richey, Dade City and throughout Pasco County and Pinellas County, Florida. If you are looking for a paternity lawyer or Tampa, St. Pete or Pasco County Florida child custody lawyer who will fight for your rights, contact us today for an initial free consultation.