Family law can involve many complex situations, including divorce, child custody, establishment or disestablishment of paternity, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and spousal/child support enforcement or modification. At Apfelbaum Law, our experienced Florida family lawyers know these kinds of issues can be very stressful for all the involved parties, including children and other family members. We do our best to help clients work through family issues and find the best resolution.

Sometimes people need help with the modification of child or spousal support. Usually this occurs because either the payer or payee has had a significant change in income. For example, let’s say Debbie and Don reached what they both thought was an equitable agreement for spousal and child support when they divorced two years ago. But, now Debbie has had a huge promotion and is making a lot more money. Don thinks if she can afford to buy herself a new car and rent a bigger apartment, she can afford to pay him more in child support each month. In this case, Don will need some proof of Debbie’s new income. His Florida family lawyer can advise him on the best way to obtain the evidence he needs in order to proceed with his request for the court to modify the child support order.

Paternity can also be a subject of concern for some people. Generally, when a married woman has a baby in the state of Florida, her husband is assumed to be the father. If a woman is not married, she can voluntarily establish paternity with a sworn statement, signed by both her and the baby’s father. However, if the father in uncooperative, the mother may go to court to establish paternity and ultimately seek child support in the future. The father or a state agency may also go to court to establish paternity. Regardless of who begins the case, the court usually requires a DNA test to establish paternity.

Disestablishment of paternity is a process in which the legal father is relieved of parental responsibilities, including financial ones like paying child support. Generally, a man is considered to be the legal father of a child if he and the child’s mother were married when it was born, if he and the mother agreed in writing that he was the legal father of the child, if a court order has determined he is the child’s legal father, or if he signed the child’s birth certificate as the father. Under these rules, a man does not have to be the child’s biological father in order to be its legal father.

However, sometimes this can present problems. For example, a man might sign the birth certificate for a child believing he is the biological father, only to find out later he is not. While dealing with that upsetting news, he learns the court still expects him to pay child support. In this case, he can file a petition to disestablish paternity. For the petition to be granted, he will have to prove he was unaware of the child’s biological paternity at the time he accepted legal responsibility for it. If he legally adopted the child, knowingly agreed to conceive the child as a sperm donor, or the mother can prove he knew he was not the biological father, the petition will be denied. A Florida family attorney can advise you on the types of evidence you will need to present if you wish to disestablish paternity.

If you have questions or concerns about divorce, family law, or other Florida legal services, please contact Apfelbaum Law for a consultation. We can be reached at 772-236-4009, or [email protected]