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The Four Main Petitioners of Paternity Actions

paternity actions_ estevez-pazos_blogHow you heard the phrase, “Who’s your daddy?” Paternity actions are not just for establishing parentage. Paternity actions are lawsuits that are filed for a number of reasons. These legal proceedings are often fraught with anxiety, so to get the results you want, you need to hire a paternity lawyer to represent you.

Who Can File Paternity Actions?

There are only four parties who have the standing, or the justification, for filing a paternity action. These parties are called the petitioners. Although there are occasional exceptions, the four parties are the mother, the child, the alleged or presumed father, and the state.

Alleged or Presumed Fathers

An alleged father can file a lawsuit to establish custody of the minor child or to get visitation rights. Alternatively, a presumed father is a married man who files a lawsuit to disprove his paternity of his wife’s child. A more common scenario is that an alleged father is sued by the mother for child support.

Every state has a different family law code. In some states a father has a limited amount of time to file a paternity action.

Mothers of Minor Children

Most mothers who file a paternity suit are seeking child support for their minor children. A lawyer is always needed to properly file a paternity lawsuit.

When a man is served with a paternity lawsuit, he has to respond in writing with one of three options. He can admit the child is his, he can challenge the allegation, or he can admit there’s a possibility the child is his and take a DNA test to confirm. (DNA tests are now 99% accurate.)

If paternity is proven during the course of the legal proceedings, the court instructs the father to start paying child support. The amount of the child support varies from state to state and is calculated using a formula. Each state has guidelines to determine how much child support is required. The monthly child support is based on the incomes of both parents, the time the child spends with each parent, and other factors.

The Child

There are situations in which a child files a paternity lawsuit against the father. This is usually an attempt to build a relationship. Some fathers don’t want to be dads yet pay child support. In some cases, these fathers have little or no contact with their child.

In this situation, a child may go to court. The child’s court-appoint guardian or a social services agency files the paternity action of the child’s behalf.

The State

In many states, it’s possible to file a lawsuit against the father for reimbursement of the public assistance the mother received, or to enforce court-ordered child support. These “dead-beat parent” laws allow a district attorney’s office or a state agency to aggressively enforce a child support order. These methods (or punishments) vary from state to state but include the following:

  • Contempt of court leading to a fine or jail time
  • Garnishing of wages
  • Passport restrictions
  • Seizing property
  • Suspending a driver’s license
  • Taking a tax refund

You Need a Lawyer on Your Side

Whether you’re a mom seeking child support, or a dad wanting to spend time with his child, you need to consult with a family law attorney. Paternity actions are complicated and require the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney from your home state. The Estevez-Pazos Law Firm is here to help. Call the Coral Gables office today at (305) 717-7130 to schedule an appointment.


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The Estevez-Pazos Law Firm, P.A.

135 San Lorenzo Avenue, Suite 650
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
Fax: 305-234-7028
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