The Difference Between Paternity Actions & Divorce?

Paternity actions and divorce proceedings can involve disputes between the parents of minor children regarding their respective rights and obligations regarding child custody and support. So, what is the difference between a paternity action and a divorce in Florida?

The simple answer in one word is “marriage.” In Florida, a petition for dissolution of marriage—known more commonly as a divorce petition—involves determining the parties’ rights arising from the marital relationship. Not all marriages involve minor children. At the same time, not all parents were ever married.

If you were never married and you have a child with someone, you most likely need a paternity case to establish a parenting plan and determine child custody and support rights. Although many divorces require the parties and the court to evaluate child custody and support issues, those issues only come about through the parent-child relationship. Paternity actions answer the question: “Does someone have a parent-child relationship with the child?”

Under Florida law, a parent-child relationship arises under many circumstances involving:

  • A person’s marital status with the child’s mother when the child was born
  • An unmarried person’s acknowledgment of a parent-child relationship when the child was born
  • Genetic confirmation that someone is the child’s biological father

Because the central issue of a paternity case involves determining the existence of a parent-child relationship, issues that are only connected to spouses in a marital relationship, such as the division of marital property upon divorce and the right to spousal support, are not covered in a paternity case. Equitable distribution and alimony proceedings are preoccupied with answer the questions: “How do you split property both spouses owned as a married couple” and “how much money should one spouse pay to make sure their spouse can start living on their own?”

However, paternity issues might come up in a divorce proceeding involving a minor child when a husband is trying to fight against child custody or support issues by claiming someone else is the child’s birth father. In that case, the husband will need to disestablish his paternity by establishing someone else’s paternity.

Consult Family First Legal Group About Your Case

At Family First Legal Group, our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience between them regarding family law matters such as paternity and divorce. To make sure your property and paternal rights are properly and accurately judged, we are ready to provide you with quality legal advice and advocacy based on compassion and a drive for results.

Learn more about our services at Family First Legal Group and call our office at (239) 319-4441 or contact us onlinetoday.