For most single parents, child support is crucial to providing for their child or children. However, there are a few legal necessities that typically must be addressed in order to secure your child’s legal right to financial support and other benefits.
In the state of Florida, legally-established paternity is an important part of obtaining benefits and rights for both the child and parents involved. Also, it can provide the child with valuable information about their parentage, including details of medical history. In cases of child support, the Florida family court does require legal paternity as a condition of the court order.
What Counts as Legal Paternity in Florida?
Florida law allows legal paternity to be established in a few different ways:
- At the time of birth in the hospital, legal paternity is automatically established if the parents of the child are legally married.
- Paternity may also be established at the time of birth if both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This affidavit of paternity becomes legally binding after a 60-day waiting period.
- Legitimation or acknowledgment can occur between zero and eighteen years of age, either through both parents voluntarily acknowledging paternity or as a part of the legal marriage of the child’s parents.
- Paternity may also be established through the family court system, with the process initiated by court order. In these cases, parents may be unsure of or unwilling to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, and genetic paternity testing will be used to determine parentage.
DNA paternity testing is always required in child support cases, because both parents may instead choose to voluntarily establish paternity. However, many family court cases involving questions of child support use court-ordered genetic testing to determine legal paternity.
In some situations, the mother and alleged father may choose to work with the Florida Department of Revenue to complete the process. The alleged father, mother, and child will submit samples for DNA testing, and if the genetic test shows a match between the child and alleged father, the Department of Revenue will file an Administrative Order of Paternity.
Additionally, the Florida Office of Vital Statistics will edit the child’s birth certificate to include the father’s name. For many people, this option is a quicker, less expensive route to establishing legal paternity and a child support plan. However, an administrative order will not be enough to bestow legal rights or parenting time for the father – this process must be completed in the court.
Chain of Custody: Why It’s Important
The concept of “chain of custody” refers to the handling and processing of evidence, specifically information that is to be used in Florida state court. For lab test results to be considered legally valid, there must be a clear, professional chain of custody. This means that the sample must be collected under professional supervision, properly documented, and handled only by the neutral, third-party laboratory. As a result, all parties involved (as well as the court) can safely rely on the accuracy of the final results. For this reason, at-home DNA tests are not considered legally-admissible, because tampering or user error could easily alter the outcome.
Accurate, Hassle-Free Paternity Testing in Fort Myers
If you’re in need of a fast, confidential, and reliable DNA paternity test in the Fort Myers area, ARCpoint Labs of Fort Myers can help. Our professional technicians are trained to the highest standard, ensuring that your testing experience is discreet and stress-free. You’ll receive rapid results that you can count on, with a legally-admissible paternity report that can be used for your legal and personal needs, including in cases of child support.
ARCpoint Labs offers a wide range of testing solutions, with our certified Fort Myers lab fully equipped to administer lab services for both personal and legal use. Learn more about your best-fit testing options by contacting ARCpoint Labs of Fort Myers today.
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