Collier County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Civil Department – Family Law
3315 Tamiami Trail East, Ste. 102
Naples, FL 34112-5324
Phone: (239) 252-2646
Email: Family Law

 

Paternity

Paternity cases may be filed by a birth mother or suspected father to legally establish who the biological father is of the child or children in question. A Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief is used by a birth mother or father to ask the court to establish paternity, a time-sharing schedule, and/or child support of a minor child or children to legally establish who is the father of the child(ren).

Once paternity has been established, the court may address several issues, including child support, custody and visitation rights.

For a paternity case to proceed, the petitioner must properly notify the respondent of the petition. If the whereabouts of the respondent are known, personal service should be used. If the whereabouts of the respondent is unknown, constructive service (publication) may be used. However, if constructive service is used, the court may only grant limited relief. Legal advice should be sought on constructive service in a paternity case.

To amend a birth certificate with Department of Health/Vital Statistics, a fee payable to Vital Statistics is required and an amendment form must be forwarded to the Department of Health after the order is entered in your case.

If personal service is used, the respondent has 20 days to answer after being served with the petition. The paternity case will then generally proceed in one of the following three ways:

Default

If after 20 days, no answer has been filed, a Motion for Default may be filed. Then, once all of the required papers are filed, call the assigned judge’s office to set a hearing. The respondent must be notified of the hearing by using a Notice of Hearing (General), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.923, or other appropriate notice of hearing form.

Uncontested

If the respondent files an answer that agrees with everything in the petition or an answer and waiver, the petitioner has complied with mandatory disclosure and filed all of the required papers, you can call the assigned judge’s office to set a hearing. The respondent must be notified of the hearing by using a Notice of Hearing.

Contested

If the respondent files an answer or an answer and counter petition which disagrees with or denies anything in the petition, and the disputed issues cannot be settled, the case will proceed to trial. The petitioner must first comply with mandatory disclosure, have completed scientific paternity testing,if necessary, and filed all required documents. Next Petitioner must file a Notice For Non-Jury Trial.

If the respondent files an answer and counter petition, an answer to the counter petition should be filed within 20 days using an Answer to Counter Petition, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form12.983(d).

When Is A Man Presumed To Be The Biological Father?

A man is presumed to be the biological father if:

  • He was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or conception
  • The mother was not married at the time of the birth and the man acknowledged paternity at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth
  • The mother was not married at the time of the birth and the man acknowledged paternity subsequent to the birth by filing a Consenting Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity, DH 432, with the Office of Vital Statistics before the date that a petition for termination of parental rights is filed with the court and the record has been amended to reflect him as father; or Paternity has been adjudicated by a court before the date a petition for termination of parental rights is filed with the court.

 

 

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