Who Can File a Paternity Suit? And Why Would You Need To?

Our Tampa family lawyers explain who can file paternity actions and when that type of proceeding might be necessary.

In Florida, anyone can file a paternity suit – men and women. In many cases, paternity suits are filed by women attempted to find out who their child’s actual father is in order to get child support. In some cases, men who are assumed to be the real father file paternity actions to prove the opposite in order to remove child support obligations. In still other cases, men may file paternity suits in order to establish that they are the real father so that they can get custody or visitation.

Paternity suits are family court cases that are held to establish the true identity of a child’s father. If you live in Florida and want to establish paternity, enter into a time-sharing schedule, or obtain a child support agreement, you will need to file a petition to determine paternity (Form 12.983a).

Paternity suits must be served to the respondent who then has 20 days to answer. If the respondent does not respond within 20 days, the paternity case will go into default. If the respondent does answer, they may do so in two ways:

  • Uncontested
  • Contested

If the respondent contests the petition for paternity, then either party can file a Motion for Scientific Paternity Testing. This is a DNA test that will confirm with certainty who the true father is. After the true father is established, the parties can then begin talks about parenting plans, time-sharing, and child custody.

If, after paternity has been established, the parties still disagree on issues such as custody, child support, and parenting time, the judge will make the decision in the best interests of the child or children.

To learn more about establishing paternity, contested paternity, and how you can get help with a paternity suit, contact a Tampa paternity lawyer at Robert Sparks Attorneys today for a confidential consultation!