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Should Mothers File Paternity Actions in Pinellas County?


Raising children is never easy, especially financially and emotionally. These challenges are even greater for single parents, and in many communities, single-parent households are almost the norm. The good news is that these hurdles are certainly not insurmountable. A paternity action helps even more, as outlined below.

Some women are afraid to pursue these actions because they do not want the respondents to learn their addresses. That’s a valid fear in many cases. So, a Clearwater child custody attorney can usually mask the petitioner’s address in these situations. And, an attorney can also include language in the final order which helps permanently reduce this fear.

Financial Benefits

Many fathers pay child support sporadically at best. Paternity orders create legal obligations in this area. Since Florida is an income share state, the support amount helps children have the same standard of living they would have had if their parents were married.

Child support enforcement is another important point. The state Attorney General enforces child support obligations, so if the obligor falls behind, the state often brings all its resources to bear to cure this delinquency. Child support obligees have a number of enforcement options. Some are designed to get the obligor’s attention and others are designed to raise money straightaway.

Other financial benefits of a paternity action includes birth expense reimbursement. The order can direct the obligor to pay the hospital, reimburse Medicare, or reimburse the mother directly.

Emotional Benefits

As mentioned above, paternity orders often give mothers additional peace of mind. Protective orders and injunctions usually prevent the father from coming to certain places or doing certain things.

Contrary to popular myth, a protective order is not just a piece of paper. Protective orders enable mothers to give third parties, like daycares and schools, notice of the situation. Additionally, many law enforcement agencies hesitate to respond to nonviolent domestic disputes. But they respond immediately to alleged violations of court orders.

Paternity orders usually include set visitation schedules. Once everyone gets into a habit, contact typically becomes more consistent. In most cases, that consistency benefits everyone, especially children.

On a related note, paternity orders give physicians access to a child’s complete family medical history. That’s important, especially if the child develops a chronic illness or needs radical drug therapy.

What to Expect

A father’s signature on the birth certificate does not legally establish paternity. An administrative action is a little better, because it establishes a child support obligation. However, only a formal legal action has all the benefits described above.

Typically, fathers agree to paternity actions almost immediately. If they do not, the judge usually orders a DNA swab test. This test is completely noninvasive and practically 100 percent accurate. Judges usually order the parties to pay the cost proportionally.

At that point, most other cases settle. The DNA test is usually absolute proof of paternity, so there is little point in having a trial.

Contact a Dedicated Lawyer

In most cases, paternity actions have so many financial and emotional benefits that they are a must-have for your family. For a consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Clearwater, contact Cairns Law, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.




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