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Protecting the Interests of Clients & Families Throughout Orange & Seminole County

Five Rights Mothers Have in Paternity Actions

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Single parenting is not easy. In many cases, however, being a single parent is easier than counting on an unreliable parent partner. But in many other cases, any help, especially financial help, is much appreciated.

A paternity action is usually the best way to guarantee such help. Unless there is an enforceable court order in place, even the most well-meaning promises of the most well-meaning fathers sometimes go unfulfilled.

Under Florida law, mothers in paternity actions have the inside track in terms of becoming the residential parent. This parent has the right to primary possession of the child and also the right to make important decisions, such as where the child will live. Therefore, if you reach out to a Maitland family law attorney, you have a lot to gain and very little to lose.

Child Support

Florida is an income share state. So, the child support guideline amount is based on a complex formula. This formula takes into account the income of both parents, the parenting time division, the number of children in the family, and several other factors. Normally, the guideline amount is substantial. And, if more support is warranted, mothers may be able to obtain it.

Child support orders are also relatively easy to enforce. If the father has a steady job, the court normally issues an income withholding order. If the obligor falls behind, there are a number of collection options, such as tax refund intercept.

Medical Insurance

As part of the child support order, judges normally direct fathers to provide health insurance for their children. The insurance must meet certain minimum requirements. Additionally, the father must usually pay at least half of copays and other uninsured medical expenses.

Even though the father pays for medical insurance, the father probably does not have the right to name a doctor and make other medical care decisions. These choices usually belong to the residential custodian, and in most paternity actions, that person is the child’s mother.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

This category is similar to the one discussed above, but it’s also different. For example, if a child is hurt in a vehicle collision, the health insurance company may refuse to pay the doctor bill. If that happens, the father is financially responsible.

Birth Expenses

Even if the birth certificate designates a father, this person is not the legal father of your child. Only a paternity action can change that fact.

So, even if the father was there during birth, the father does not have to pay anything toward the hospital bill. A routine birth might cost several thousand dollars, and if there are even slight complications, the bill could be at least ten times higher.

Some Orange County judges order fathers to pay additional birth-related financial costs. That could include reimbursement for part of the money you lost because you missed work for several weeks.

Ground Rules

If you have an informal parenting plan in place that is working reasonably well, that’s great. A paternity action puts that arrangement into writing. The father cannot unilaterally change it and will have a hard time legally modifying it.

If you and the father do not get along well, the paternity order could include provisions like a permanent restraining order and supervised visitation.

Contact a Tenacious Lawyer

Mothers have substantial rights in paternity cases. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Maitland mothers’ rights attorney, contact The Troum Law Firm, P.A. After-hours visits are available by appointment.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0742/0742.html

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