May 22, 2024

Understanding the Legal Significance of Establishing Paternity in Florida Family Law

Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of a parent-child relationship between a father and his child. In Florida, establishing paternity is crucial in family law cases, as it directly impacts essential rights and responsibilities, such as child support, custody, and visitation. For unmarried parents, it is particularly crucial to understand the process of establishing paternity and how it affects the well-being of their child and their legal rights as parents.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the process of establishing paternity under Florida law, the consequences of paternity acknowledgement on child support and custody, and the role of experienced legal representation in navigating these complex issues. At Dorsey Law JAX, our dedicated family law attorneys are committed to helping clients understand and protect their rights and responsibilities as they establish paternity and plan for their child’s future.

Join us as we explore the importance of establishing paternity in the context of Florida family law. By understanding the legal aspects of paternity, parents can better navigate the challenges that arise in matters of child support, custody, and visitation. With the guidance of our expert team, you can ensure the best possible outcome for both you and your child as you navigate the intricacies of paternity and its impact on your family’s future.

Different Ways to Establish Paternity in Florida

There are several methods to establish paternity in Florida. These include:

1. Marriage: Paternity is automatically established when a child is born to a married couple. The husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child.

2. Voluntary Acknowledgment: Unmarried parents can establish paternity by signing a voluntary acknowledgment form, called the “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” Both parents must agree and sign the form, usually at the hospital when the child is born or at a later time.

3. Court Order: If the parents do not agree on paternity or refuse to sign a voluntary acknowledgment, either parent can petition the court to establish paternity. The court may order genetic testing to determine the biological father of the child, and, subsequently, establish legal paternity.

4. Administrative Order: In some cases, the Florida Department of Revenue can issue an administrative order of paternity based on genetic testing results.

The Impact of Establishing Paternity on Child Support

Once paternity is established, the father becomes legally responsible for financially supporting the child. In Florida, child support is calculated based on the incomes of both parents, the child’s needs, and the time each parent spends with the child. Establishing paternity ensures that the child’s financial needs are met, as both parents are then responsible for covering expenses, such as medical care, education, and other necessities.

If the father refuses to pay child support, the court can enforce the obligation through measures, such as wage garnishment, interception of tax refunds, or suspension of the father’s driver’s license.

The Influence of Paternity on Custody and Visitation Rights

Establishing paternity also directly impacts the father’s right to have a say in important parenting decisions and have access to the child through visitation. Upon establishing paternity, courts can determine custody and visitation based on the child’s best interests, which considers factors such as the quality of the parent-child relationship, the parents’ ability to communicate and work together, and the stability each parent can provide.

Unmarried fathers must actively assert their rights to shared parenting through the court system. Merely acknowledging paternity does not automatically entitle the father to custody or visitation rights. The court will evaluate the circumstances and make a determination that is in the best interests of the child.

Denial of Paternity and Disestablishment of Paternity

In some cases, a man may be presumed or acknowledged as a child’s father, only to later discover that he is not the biological father. In these instances, it is crucial to understand the legal process for contesting paternity and pursuing a disestablishment of paternity. Florida law allows presumed or acknowledged fathers to disestablish paternity within a reasonable time after discovering that they are not the biological fathers, upon meeting specific legal criteria.

The disestablishment of paternity process involves filing a petition with the court and providing evidence of non-paternity, such as genetic testing results. This process can be complicated, and it is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that you follow the correct procedures for contesting or disestablishing paternity.


Establishing paternity in Florida is an essential step in family law cases involving unmarried parents, as it impacts the rights and responsibilities of both parents in terms of child support, custody, and visitation. With a comprehensive understanding of the process and legal consequences of paternity, parents can better navigate these complex issues and advocate for the best interests of their child.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our skilled family law attorneys are committed to helping clients through every step of the paternity process, ensuring a fair outcome for you and your child. If you need assistance in establishing or disputing paternity, or have questions about the impact of paternity on your specific situation, contact our knowledgeable team today to learn how we can help you secure the best possible outcome for your family.

May 16, 2024

Establishing and Modifying Child Support in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide

Ensuring the financial well-being of your children after a divorce or separation is a priority for every parent. Child support is designed to provide for a child’s needs by requiring both parents to contribute financially to their upbringing. Navigating the process of establishing and modifying child support in Florida can be complex, with various factors considered by the courts in determining fair and equitable agreements.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our experienced family law attorneys are committed to guiding clients through the intricacies of child support cases, providing invaluable support and representation to achieve the best outcomes for their families.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the processes of establishing, enforcing, and modifying child support in Florida, helping you understand your rights, responsibilities, and options. From the basics of the Florida Child Support Guidelines to the factors considered by the court in calculating support amounts, we will provide insights and resources to help you make informed decisions for your family’s future.

Florida Child Support Guidelines: Factors and Calculations

Florida’s Child Support Guidelines (CSG) is a helpful resource that outlines the principles, criteria, and calculations for determining child support obligations. Some key factors considered in the CSG calculations include:

1. Gross Income: Both parents’ gross incomes, including wages, bonuses, commissions, benefits, and other sources of income, are taken into account when calculating child support.

2. Timesharing Arrangements: The amount of time each parent spends with the child and their respective responsibilities will impact the child support calculations.

3. Child Care Expenses: Reasonable and necessary childcare expenses, such as daycare or babysitting costs, are factored into the child support calculations.

4. Health Insurance: The cost of health insurance premiums for the child will also be considered when determining the child support obligation.

Understanding these factors can help you prepare for the calculations involved in establishing a fair child support agreement in Florida.

Establishing Child Support through the Florida Department of Revenue

The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) plays a crucial role in establishing and enforcing child support orders. When establishing child support, the DOR will:

1. Locate Non-Custodial Parents: The DOR will help locate non-custodial parents to initiate the child support process, using various resources and databases.

2. Establish Paternity: In cases where paternity is uncertain, the DOR can help facilitate paternity testing and establish legal paternity, ensuring the biological father is held responsible for child support.

3. Enforcing Child Support Orders: The DOR is responsible for collecting child support from the obligated parent and distributing it to the receiving parent. If a parent fails to pay, the DOR has various enforcement tools available, such as wage garnishment or license suspension.

Working with the DOR can help ensure child support orders are established and enforced effectively, protecting your child’s financial interests.

Modifying Child Support Orders in Florida

Florida allows child support orders to be reviewed and modified under specific circumstances to accommodate changes in the parents’ or child’s needs. Some grounds for modification include:

1. Substantial Change in Circumstances: A significant change in either parent’s financial situation, such as job loss, increase or decrease in income, or changes in childcare expenses, can warrant a child support modification.

2. Modification Thresholds: A child support order may be eligible for review and modification if there is at least a 15% or $50 difference between the existing order and the new calculated amount, whichever is greater.

3. Time since Last Review: Florida law allows child support orders to be reviewed for modification every three years, even if there hasn’t been a substantial change in circumstances, ensuring that the support order remains appropriate and fair.

Understanding the grounds for child support modification can help you take appropriate action if your family’s situation changes substantially.

The Importance of Legal Representation in Florida Child Support Cases

Navigating the complexities of establishing and modifying child support in Florida can be challenging, and having experienced legal representation on your side is invaluable. Some benefits of skilled legal representation include:

1. Accurate Calculations: An experienced family law attorney can help you accurately calculate the child support amount to ensure that it is fair and in accordance with Florida guidelines.

2. Identifying Hidden Income or Assets: A knowledgeable attorney can assist in identifying hidden or underreported income and assets to ensure an accurate representation of each parent’s financial situation.

3. Navigating Modifications: When seeking a child support modification, a skilled attorney can help you build a strong case to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances and argue for a fair and appropriate modification.

4. Protecting Your Interests: A knowledgeable family law attorney can advocate for you and your child’s interests, helping you navigate the legal system and ensuring that your child’s financial needs are protected.

By partnering with an experienced attorney, you can tackle the challenges of child support head-on and secure a favorable outcome for your family.

Empowering Parents with the Knowledge and Support to Navigate Child Support in Florida

Understanding the intricacies of establishing, enforcing, and modifying child support in Florida is crucial to protecting the financial well-being of your children. By familiarizing yourself with the Florida Child Support Guidelines, working with the Department of Revenue, and recognizing the grounds for modification, you can better support your child’s financial needs.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our compassionate and skilled family law attorneys are dedicated to providing the support and representation our clients need to navigate the complexities of child support cases. Our expertise and personalized approach can help you secure a fair and equitable child support agreement, ensuring the best possible future for your children. With the right knowledge and legal support, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that you have taken every step to protect your child’s financial interests!

May 9, 2024

Navigating Child Support Modifications in Florida

Child support is a critical component of ensuring the well-being and stability of a child following a divorce or separation. In Florida, both parents have an obligation to financially contribute to their child’s upbringing, and the amount of child support paid is determined by the child support guidelines outlined under Florida law. However, circumstances may change after the original child support order is issued, which can make the existing order no longer suitable for the child’s needs or the parents’ financial situations. In such cases, parents may seek a child support modification to better align with their current circumstances and uphold the best interests of the child.

In this article, we will discuss the process of child support modification in Florida, the legal grounds that warrant a modification, and the various factors that the courts consider when reviewing such requests. Moreover, we will provide insight into how our skilled legal team at Dorsey Law JAX can assist you in navigating the process to ensure the most favorable outcome for both you and your child in situations where child support modifications are necessary. As experienced family law practitioners, we understand the unique challenges that parents face when seeking to modify child support orders, and we are committed to providing expert representation and guidance throughout the process.

Legal Grounds for Child Support Modifications in Florida

In Florida, a child support order can be modified when there is a substantial change in circumstances for either the child or the parents. Such substantial changes may include:

1. A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income, which may result from a job change, job loss, or a promotion.

2. A substantial change in the child’s needs, such as medical expenses, educational costs, or extracurricular activities.

3. A change in the child’s custody arrangement or parenting time schedule, which may affect the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

4. Changes to Florida’s child support guidelines, which occur periodically and may affect the amount of child support calculated under the guidelines.

It is essential to note that the change in circumstances must be substantial, ongoing, and not foreseeable at the time of the original order for a child support modification to be granted by the court.

How to Request a Child Support Modification

To request a modification to an existing child support order, the following steps should be taken:

1. Consult with an Attorney: Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial to ensure that you meet the legal criteria for a modification and to navigate the process effectively.

2. File the Request: The parent seeking a modification must file a “Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support” with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the original order was issued. This petition outlines the changes in circumstances that warrant the requested modification.

3. Serve the other parent: After filing the petition, the other parent must be notified of the request by serving them with a copy of the petition and a summons.

4. Mandatory Financial Disclosure: Both parents are required to exchange financial information, including recent pay stubs, tax returns, and a financial affidavit to demonstrate their current financial circumstances.

5. Mediation or Court Hearing: Depending on the circumstances, the parents may be required to attend mediation to reach a resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, a court hearing will be scheduled, where the judge will determine whether a modification is appropriate based on the evidence presented.

Factors Courts Consider When Reviewing Modification Requests

When evaluating child support modification requests, the court will consider various factors, such as:

1. The child’s best interests: The well-being of the child is always the primary consideration in any child support decision. The court will assess whether the proposed modification would serve the child’s emotional, physical, and financial needs.

2. The substantial change in circumstances: The court will closely examine the alleged change in circumstances to determine if it is substantial, ongoing, and unforeseen at the time of the original order.

3. The relevant financial information: Courts will review both parents’ financial information to assess their ability to provide for the child’s needs and determine an appropriate amount of support under the Florida child support guidelines.

4. Compliance with procedural requirements: The court will evaluate whether the requesting parent has properly filed and served all necessary documents and complied with all procedural requirements, such as financial disclosures and mediation.

The Impact of Modification on the Existing Order

If the court grants a child support modification request, the modified order will replace the existing order and become legally binding on both parents. The modified order may be either temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. It is essential to comply with the terms of the modified order, as failure to do so may result in legal consequences, such as wage garnishment, license suspension, or even contempt of court charges.


Navigating the process of child support modifications is a complex and often emotionally exhausting experience for parents. Understanding Florida’s legal criteria for modifications, the steps involved, and the factors that courts consider when reviewing requests can be instrumental in achieving a fair outcome for both you and your child.

At Dorsey Law JAX, our experienced family law attorneys are committed to providing expert representation and guidance as you pursue a modification that aligns with your child’s best interests. If you are considering seeking a child support modification or have questions about the process, we invite you to contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your child.

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