Thursday, June 7, 2012

                                               WHEN IS A FATHER NOT A FATHER?

Are you a Father that has a child that was not born during a marriage?  Are you a Father currently living with your significant other and child?  If so, did you know that in Florida you most likely do not have any parental rights to that child?

Many Father’s do not realize that just signing a birth certificate does not legally give you rights to your child if you were not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth.  In Florida, a Father who signs the birth certificate is merely presumed to be the legal Father.  In order for a Father to have legal rights to a child, he has to go through a process called a Paternity Action.  During this Paternity Action, the Father can be established and recognized as the minor child’s legal Father.  Prior to this action, the Father does not have any rights except in a few situations. 

One of the mains exceptions to this rule is where the Mother has instituted a Department of Revenue Administrative Action against you.  Thereafter, if the Department of Revenue determines, either by admission, failure to respond, or DNA test, that you are the biological Father of the minor child, then the Department of Revenue can establish child support and hold you accountable to provide for the minor child.  However, this is not the same thing as a Paternity Action in Family Law Court.  The Department of Revenue can only deal with money issues.  In order to have your rights, whether they are visitation or parental responsibilities, established you must go through a separate Paternity Action in Family Court.  Until you do so, you will have no rights to the minor child, other than the responsibility to pay child support. 

Therefore, if you have not been legally adjudicated to be the legal father of your child, or if you are unsure if your rights have been established, you should contact a family law attorney to find out your rights.  Even if you are currently living with the Mother of the child, it is still important for Father’s to be declared the legal Father of the minor child, incase something were to happen to the Mother.  If you are not already designated as the legal father, this could cause you problems or even allow the minor child to be removed from your care, should something happen to the Mother.   

Please visit for more information.

--Jamie V. Simons, Esquire

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


       The new Duval County Courthouse is set to open its doors in the next few weeks.  After a ten year building process and a recent City Council argument regarding furniture, the new Courthouse is scheduled to open on Tuesday May 29th.  The new building is a long time coming and desperately needed.

       The current Duval County Courthouse was originally dedicated in 1958, making the building a little over a half century old.  At that time, the population of Jacksonville was around 450,000.  The old Courthouse has served the community well, but as the population grows, the need for a larger facility has become increasingly evident.  After the 2000 census, the City of Jacksonville decided to begin the process of building a new County Courthouse.  Finally, a project ten years in development will become a reality on May 29th, 2012.

       The transition from the old Courthouse to the new one will take a little over ten days to complete.  This means a temporary interruption in day-to-day court procedures until the new Courthouse opens.  The old Courthouse at 330 East Bay Street will close for good on Friday May 18th at 5:00 p.m.  New cases MUST be filed by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday May 16th; only emergency cases will be permitted to be filed between May 17th and May 29th.  At this point, it is believed that filings can still be made in existing cases via the e-File system currently in use in Duval County.

UPDATE 5/29/12

The new Courthouse will now open on Monday June 4th.  The delay was caused by failures in the fire control system of the new building.  You can bet that a weeks worth of rescheduled hearings will be a logistical nightmare when the building does open.

UPDATE 6/5/12

So you think you're getting a new Courthouse -- not so fast Duval County.  Officials say the new Courthouse has continued to fail in tests of the fire control system.  The new plan is to move back into the old Courthouse on East Bay Street until the new building is ready for occupancy.  Court officials plan on being back in the old Courthouse by next Monday, 6/11.  More information regarding the Courthouse fiasco can be found by following the link below.