DNA Testing While Being Pregnant

Can a paternity test be performed while you are pregnant? If you are unmarried, but expecting a child and want to establish your legal rights, a Petition to Establish Paternity must be filed.  If you are unsure whether you are the Father of the child, you can request the court to order a DNA test.  The Mother can also request a DNA to be ordered if she is unsure whether the person who filed the case is truly the biological Father. DNA tests are typically not performed until the birth of the child.  There are some options to perform the test while pregnant, however, it is costly and can be dangerous for the baby.  Most likely, the Court will not order a DNA test until the child is born.  Even though the DNA test will be done after the child is born, you do not have to wait until the child is born to file a Petition to Establish Paternity.  In fact, it is a good idea to file before the birth of that child so that a DNA test can be performed immediately after the child’s birth. The Court can order that the DNA test be performed in the hospital after the child’s birth.  The court will take no action on the case until the child is born and a DNA test proving the Father is the biological Father is filed with the Court.  If you choose to wait and file after the child is born, you should register your name with the Florida Putative Father Registry to protect your rights.  This prevents the child from being legally...

Are Divorce Records Public in Florida?

Divorce and Confidentiality In Florida, all divorce cases are public records. Florida has a broad public records law. In fact, the majority of domestic relation cases are public records including paternity cases and child support cases. The major exception to the public records law in Florida is adoption cases. Adoption records are not public records. Adoption records are sealed and require a court order to open. The only people who can obtain adoption records are the parties to the action. The purpose of keeping these records sealed is to protect the children involved. In addition to adoption cases, termination of parental rights cases and dependency cases are also not public records. If records are public, it means that any person can get information regarding a person’s divorce or other type of domestic relations case. You do not have to be a party to the action to get information. This information can be found through the Clerk of Court in the county in which the case was filed. The Final Judgment of Divorce can also be found through the Florida Vital Statistics Office and you can obtain documents for a fee. What differs from county to county is the manner in which the public records are available. In some counties, all divorce records and other domestic relation records can be accessed online through the Clerk of Court website. Often however, only the title of the document filed in the case can be viewed, and not the content of the document. Other counties have no online access available, and you must physically go to the courthouse of the county in which...

Father’s Rights before Birth

The legality of caring for and raising children separately from a partner can come with a number of issues, and there are a lot of facts that Florida fathers need to know. A pressing question on the mind of many fathers-to-be is regarding their rights regarding their unborn child. It is important to understand these facts: • The majority of the rights surrounding a pregnancy are given to the woman who is carrying the child • Because pregnancy is considered a medical condition, a woman is not legally obligated to provide any information about the course of the pregnancy to the father of the child • Likewise, a woman’s doctor is forbidden by HIPAA to release any information about his patient or her unborn child Father’s Rights Regarding Termination of Pregnancy Since the passing of Roe v Wade in 1973, women in the United States have had the right to legally terminate a pregnancy. They are not obligated by law to inform the father of the unborn child that they are having an abortion, nor are they obligated to obtain his consent. Spousal consent for abortion was declared to be unconstitutional in a landmark 1976 case which pitted Planned Parenthood of Missouri against the state’s Attorney general at the time, John Danforth. Fathers who are aware that the woman carrying their child is planning to obtain an abortion have the option of meeting with a lawyer to draft a document promising full medical care to the mother and full custody to the father, absolving her of parental responsibility. In the end, it is still a pregnant woman’s legal right...

Petition To Determine Paternity

Did you know the number of paternity tests taken in the United States has jumped 64 percent every year for the last decade? Fighting for your paternity rights is something that can cause a headache, but I think we can all agree that a headache is worth having your children in your life. There are cases where fathers are forbidden to see their children, are told they are not the father but raised the child and were asked to leave after years of involvement, and a many more. We have all heard of devastating circumstances where the father is fighting a custody battle. The definition of paternity is: the state of being someone’s father. That leaves a lot of holes for one to question. The best way of going about fighting someone on your paternal rights is a paternity to determine paternity. The first step in filing a petition for paternity in Central Florida is filling out the petition documents; you can find these documents online. If you have more than one child you are petitioning for, you may put them all on the same document as long as they are with the same mother. Once all of the documents are filled out you will need to get them signed in front of a notary. The second step is presenting the documents to the mother. Once the mother has received the documents she has twenty days to give a response. If the mother doesn’t give a response you may file a motion for Default, which is where a judgment is made based on the other party’s lack of involvement....

Paternity Rights for Men

Many times fathers don’t know what their paternal rights are. Here are some general questions to ask yourself: Am I Able To Have Time Off Of Work When My Child Is Born? New fathers are able to take off work when the child is born or when an adoption is taking place. To have the leave, you have to have been working for the same employer for 12 months by the end of the 15th week before your child is due, or having worked 25 hours a week for 50 weeks. Many employers under federal law give 12 weeks of leave. What If My Partner And I Work At The Same Company? If you and your partner work at the same company, you are allowed 12 weeks combined. You are also allowed to take the leave any time you want within the first year. If you want to spread the 12 weeks out, you can. What If I Don’t Qualify? First make sure you qualify under FMLA and State Divisions. If you do, and you’ve given your notice, let your employer know about the laws. If they still don’t give you the time, contact your human resource department to file a complaint. There are other concerns when it comes to paternal rights when you are divorced or unmarried. Having your paternal rights is important for, child support, visitation, joint custody, etc. If your child was born and you were not married to the mother, the mother has full rights until the court says differently. The first step in taking action for your paternal rights will be to take a...

How is Custody Handled?

Florida courts do not use the term “child custody”. Instead, the courts will award a “joint parental responsibility”. The joint parental responsibility is a time sharing arrangement that allows both parents time with their child. Is Joint Parental Responsibility The Same As Child Custody? In parental responsibility, the two parents are awarded a time-sharing arrangement with the child and the task of raising the child. The responsibility to raise the child ends when the child graduates from college or upon the child’s 18th birthday. When the Florida courts award shared parental responsibility, both parents have full parental rights. Both parents must jointly decide about the child’s welfare including the primary residence, health, and education. Sole Parental Responsibility Florida courts always refrain from using the terms “child custody”. Concepts such as “majority time sharing” and equal “time sharing” apply. If divorce or separation occurs, the courts will typically award shared responsibility unless one parent proves that the shared parental responsibility is harmful to the child. The courts can take child abuse, negligence, abandonment of child and spouse, or domestic violence as possible harm to the child. In rare circumstances, the judge can also consider the request by one parent and give sole child responsibility to one parent. Sole parental responsibility or sole custody can give one parent the right to make decisions about the child’s welfare, for instance, the child’s bedtime and the school the child attends. Time Sharing Schedule The parents will attempt to agree upon time-sharing schedule that includes the parenting plan and the specific time that each parent spends with the child. The schedule must include the...

How does Homestead Law Factor into my Divorce?

Distribution of Assets after Divorce Upon divorce or separation in Florida, the courts will typically order for the equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. Courts can allocate the marital assets 50/50 unless there are factors that make the equitable distribution discriminatory. When the spouses go through a divorce, one of the partners moves out the joint home. The question that arises quite often is: Who between the husband and wife should have access to the homestead property? http://www.plea.org explains that that only marital property and liabilities are subject to the 50/50 principle. Marital property is all the property and debts acquired jointly by the marriage partners. Separate assets will remain in the name of the spouse who owns it. The Florida divorce lawyer can prepare a list of the joint assets and debts for the clients in readiness for the homestead property case. What is Homestead Property? Homestead property is a special class of real estate protected by the Florida Constitution and Statutes. The husband and wife normally are the joint owners of the homestead property as tenants by entireties. As per the Florida Statute 689.115, the homestead property is owned by the marital union, rather than by the individual spouses. The Florida Constitution defines homestead property as the couple’s principal place of residence up to one-half acre within a municipal area and up to 160 acres outside a municipality. As explained in Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution, homestead property is not subject to taxation and execution by judgments. A creditor or court judgment cannot force the sale of your homestead. Homestead Law in Marriage...

Are retirement Accounts Part of Equitable Distribution?

During a divorce, the distribution of assets and money is a tense subject. Many people do not understand the legalities associated with how the distributions are determined. Individuals, more times than not, apply their own non-legal thoughts and ideas to the process. It is true that the equitable distribution of assets, such as retirement accounts, can become very complicated, however, there are some fundamentals which are relatively simple, and that apply to most scenarios. Below we will discuss the equitable distribution of retirement accounts. Let’s first demystify the term ‘equitable distribution.’ It is a term that is commonly misinterpreted to mean equal or 50/50. That is not necessarily true. There are many variables which come into play when a judge is determining what is equitable. A more accurate way to approach the term may be to think of it as a determination as to what is fair. Pre-Marital Retirement Account Funds. Money that has accumulated and grown in an account which was established prior to the marriage is labeled as pre-marital. Typically, ex-spouses do not have a right to pre-marital funds. However, even if the account was established and partially funded prior to the inception of the marriage, if there were contributions made during the course of the marriage, those contributions will be separated and considered as part of what an ex-spouse is entitled to under equitable distribution. Contributions Made During The Marriage. Contributions or growth of a retirement account made during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution and an ex-spouse may have a right to those funds, in the event of a dissolution of the marriage. There...

What is Equitable Distribution?

Equitable distribution is a legal term that refers to the division of a couple’s assets and liabilities during a divorce. Equitable vs. Equal One of the more contentious issues facing a divorce court is the meaning of the word “equitable.” In Florida, the law takes this concept one step further and attempts to define the word “equitable” as being, in most cases, equal. This can be seen as both a way to guide a court and provide some security for the litigants. While the word “equitable” may be taken by some as a synonym for equal, in reality it is a highly subjective term that leaves much of the decision-making to the discretion of the court. Note this does not imply all settlements or judgments will be equal. What the Florida statues emphasize is fairness. It would seem the idea is to start from the most objectively “fair” standard, which is equality, and to work towards a subjectively fair standard as the case progresses. Who Owns What? Property that can be claimed by one or the other spouse can be classified as “separate property” in the state of Florida. In these kinds of cases, property can be automatically awarded to one or the other spouse on the grounds it was never jointly owned in the first place. As strange as it may seem, this can be considered a first step towards an “equitable” solution to a property dispute in a divorce case. For all intents and purposes, under Florida law, property acquired during the marriage is considered “marital property.” Everything Gets Distributed One concept many people miss when filing...

The Reality Of Alimony In Florida

Alimony is when one spouse is awarded to pay financial compensation to the other spouse. The purpose is to give the alimony recipient time to be able to take care of their personal expenses without financial assistance. Many Florida residents may think alimony is something that is only paid on a monthly basis. Alimony is actually something that can be paid in a lump sum or done using a combination of both payment methods. A divorce court will determine if alimony is to be awarded to you. It will take a number of non-monetary factors into consideration before making this decision. Types Of Alimony In Florida The divorce laws in Florida provide five different types of alimony a spouse can receive. A judge can award a single form of alimony or any combination of them. This decision will be based on what a judge believes is fair under the circumstances. It is also possible for spouses to agree with one another on terms and conditions of their own alimony arrangement. This type of agreement is often successful when legal professionals are involved during the negotiation process. Temporary Alimony Florida courts will commonly award a spouse temporary alimony during the time the divorce is pending. This is done in cases where one spouse needs to have financial support during the time the divorce process takes place. This form of alimony is designed to stop once the divorce is final. Durational Alimony Should no other form of alimony meet the financial needs of the spouse receiving it, a Florida judge may award durational alimony. The maximum length of time durational alimony...