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Establishing Paternity in Florida

It is not entirely uncommon for a child not to have a legal father. However, there are ways to declare paternity after a child is born if doing so is desired. There are many reasons one might want to establish paternity. It could be a means of securing a child support order, or for the father, it could be a way of having decision-making rights for the child. Having a legal father also gives the child the power to collect inheritance or social security on behalf of the father without jumping through legal hoops.

So, how does one establish paternity in the eyes of the law? Our Miami family law attorneys are sharing some insight.

Legal Father vs. Biological Father

Before diving into the process for establishing paternity in Florida, it is important to understand the legal definition of a father. Even a biological father may not be considered a child’s legal parent under paternity law. When a woman is married and gives birth to a child, her husband will be the child’s legal parent — even if this is not always the case. When a man believes himself to be the biological father of a child but has not been deemed the legal father but because he is not listed on the child’s birth certificate, he will need to prove this to be true by establishing paternity.

The Process for Determining Paternity

Establishing paternity can be done either voluntarily or involuntarily. For instance, if the mother is unmarried when the child is born but both parents are confident in who the father is, they can declare who the child’s father is by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. It is important to note that this acknowledgment cannot be revoked by either parent after 60 days have passed.

If the couple disagrees over who is the biological father, either the man or the woman can list the courts to establish paternity. This action can also be brought by a legal representative of the child or the Florida Department of Child Support Services. Whoever seeks to establish paternity will need to present his or her case to the circuit family court judge, who will then order a genetic test for the mother, the alleged father, and the child. If the case is started before the child’s birth, the genetic test will not be completed until he or she is born. Once paternity is determined, the judge will make decisions regarding custody, child support, health insurance, decision-making powers, and even who pays the court costs and attorney’s fees.

The process for establishing paternity in Florida is best navigated with the help of a seasoned professional. If you have a paternity case, our Miami family law attorneys are here to help. Give our office a call today to schedule a free consultation today and get the answers you need.

Expungement or Sealing Juvenile Record in Florida

Expungement or Sealing Juvenile Record in Florida

The idea that one event or mistake made in youth can have lasting negative consequences on one’s adult life is a frightening prospect. That is the situation minors face when they are arrested and charged for a criminal offense. An experienced Miami juvenile defense attorney can defend minors’ rights in court and ensure the best possible outcome.

Still, some will be left with a juvenile record that could be an obstacle to their educational and professional futures. Fortunately, in certain cases, a juvenile record in Florida can be sealed or expunged.

Eligibility for Expungement or Sealing

In Florida, a juvenile record is automatically eligible for expungement or sealing when the offender turns 24 years old or, for a serious or habitual offender, 26 years old. However, typical offenders can try to get their juvenile record sealed or expunged at an earlier age.

Minors that were arrested for nonviolent offenses and/or completed a court-ordered diversion program can petition for expungement or sealing of their juvenile record. This petition can only be done once to clear the record of only one arrest. Most juvenile records are eligible unless the offender fits the following characteristics.

      • found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for the offenses on the juvenile record they wish to seal
      • found guilty or adjudicated delinquent for serious criminal offenses, especially violent and sex crime offenses
      • previously had a criminal record sealed or expunged
      • concurrently filed another petition for expungement or sealing


In order to seal or expunge a juvenile record in Florida, offenders must first apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for Sealing. Only once they receive this certificate can they petition the juvenile court that handled their case for expungement or sealing of their record. Trying to have a juvenile record cleared is often a complex process and, in such cases, the guidance of an experienced Miami juvenile defense attorney is incredibly valuable.

If you were arrested or charged with a criminal offense as a minor, the attorneys at Pimentel & Castillo can guide you every step of the way toward achieving a expungement or sealing of your juvenile record in Florida. Once your juvenile is record cleared, you will not have to reveal your juvenile offenses to most people and employers, eliminating significant obstacles to your future educational and professional endeavors.

Call us to request a free consultation with a seasoned Miami juvenile defense attorney today.

When to Update a Florida Parenting Plan

When to Update a Florida Parenting Plan

According to Florida family law, parents in a divorce case are encouraged to develop and agree to a parenting plan. The parenting plan is a legally-binding agreement that must be approved by the court. If they are unable to agree to a parenting plan, the court will intervene and decide what parenting plan is in the best interest of the child. However, after some time, a parenting plan can prove to be ineffective or outdated and may need to be modified.

Parenting plan modifications must also be approved by a Florida family court. The process of modifying a Florida parenting plan can be complex, so it is best to consult with a seasoned Miami family law attorney when petitioning the court for a modification.

Events That May Trigger Parenting Plan Modifications

There are a variety of reasons for wanting to modify a parenting plan. Any revisions and modifications one wishes to make to a Florida parenting plan must be based on the child’s best interest. Still, some life events and/or changes in the child’s needs may prompt a parenting plan modification. These changes may concern financial support calculations, visitation schedules, time-sharing arrangements, and even custody arrangements.

      • Remarriage Especially if it involves relocation or step-children.
      • Relocation Especially if the new distance between the parents’ households is significant.
      • Maturation of the child Especially if the current plan is no longer age-appropriate.
      • Changes in the child’s schools or school schedules
      • Changes in jobs Especially if it involves relocation, significant changes in income, or unemployment.
      • Negative effects of current Florida parenting plan on the child’s development
      • Unfit parenting status Especially if it concerns recent domestic violence charges.

What Florida Family Court Considers

Just like in child custody cases, the Florida family court will make a decision it believes to be in the child’s best interest. After one or both parents files a petition for modifying the parenting plan to the court, there will be a hearing to determine if there is just cause for a modification. The court will judge the severity of the major life changes cited as the reasons for the requested parenting plan modification. One parent or both parents have to prove to the court that the current plan no longer meets the child’s needs.

Not all modifications are approved by the Florida family court. Working with an experienced Miami family law attorney can increase your chances of successfully modifying your Florida parenting plan.

The Florida family law professionals at Pimentel & Castillo can provide the right legal guidance and assist in petitioning the court on your behalf. Call us today for a free consolation.