Should I Sign a VAP for Paternity in Florida?
It is becoming more common for children to be born out of wedlock in recent decades, both in Florida and throughout the US. With this trend comes many questions about parental rights and responsibilities, particularly in connection with paternity issues. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may want to consider preparing and signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity to settle the issue of parentage for official, legal purposes.
However, before you execute the form, it is critical to understand the implications of doing so. Regardless of whether you are the child’s mother or father, there are significant rights and responsibilities that come with the establishment of parentage. A Florida paternity and family law attorney will protect your interests, but you should understand the basics.
Three Ways to Establish Paternity in Florida: State laws address parentage through one of three options:
- Marriage: If the parents are married when the child is born, there is a legal presumption that the infant is the natural and legal offspring of the couple. This presumption can be overcome by rebuttal and evidence to the contrary.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: To establish paternity through documentation, parents can execute a VAP regarding the child’s parentage. Both must sign in the presence of each other, and their signatures must be in the presence of witnesses or a notary public. When you submit the VAP to the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, a new birth certificate is issued containing the names of each parent.
- Paternity Lawsuit: Either parent can initiate litigation to have a judge decide the issue of parentage. The proceedings may include analysis of DNA for purposes of determining paternity. The court will then enter an order legally determining that the party is or is not the legal parent.
Rights and Duties of Parents After Establishing Paternity: Florida law dictates that both parents are responsible for raising the child, physically, emotionally, and financially. As such, when paternity is established through any of the three options above, there are legal implications. If you agree on paternity and want to prepare a VAP, both parents must understand that:
- Each will have a right to timesharing and responsibility of the child, which involves more than where he or she lives and the times spent with the other parent. Additionally, it will designate how major decisions involving the health, education and welfare of the child are made. .
- Both parents are entitled timesharing, unless there is a history or threat of violence, abuse, or other misconduct.
- Both parents are required to provide support for the child. Child support is based on a number of factors including both parties incomes, overnights, and certain additional expenses as well as many other factors.
Talk to a Dade City, FL Paternity and Family Law Attorney About VAP
As you can see, divorce is not the only type of legal proceeding that addresses the needs of minor children. If you are facing questions about parentage or preparing a VAP, please contact a Dade City paternity lawyer at The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane to discuss your rights. You can set up a consultation at our offices by calling 352-567-0055 or filling out an appointment request form.