Quick Links (this page is lengthy, so to provide you with quick access to the three major sections of the paternity process, use the following:
The Court Self-Help Process
The Paternity court process begins by the filing of a Paternity Petition Florida Supreme Court Approved Form 12.983(a), as well as the supporting documents listed on the Form Instructions. The petitioner may choose to file the original form with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the petitioner (the one filing to petition) resides. Once the petition is filed, the respondent (the other party in the case) must be served with notice of the petition. The respondent then has 20 days to file an Answer or Counterpetition (Florida Supreme Court Approved Forms 12.983(b), (c), and (d)), if he or she chooses.
If the respondent fails to file an answer or counterpetition within 20 days of being served, the petitioner may be eligible for a default judgment. To pursue this, the petitioner may choose to file a Motion for Default, Florida Supreme Court Approved Form 12.922(a).
If the respondent files an answer that agrees with everything in the petition, or files an answer and a waiver, the petitioner may request a final hearing on the matter by calling the clerk or family law intake staff to request a final hearing. If this is done, the respondent must be served with a Notice of Hearing (Florida Supreme Court Approved Form 12.923).
If the respondent files an answer or an answer and a counterpetition which disagrees with the matters in the petition, the petitioner may choose to file a notice for Trial, Florida Supreme Court approved Form 12.924, after which the petitioner may contact the clerk or family law intake staff for instructions on how to set the case for trial. Additionally, if paternity is contested, the respondent can file a motion for scientific paternity testing (Florida Supreme Court Approved Form 12.8983(e)). If a counterpetition was filed with the answer, the petitioner may file an answer to the counterpetition (Florida Supreme Court Approved Form 12.983(d)) within 20 days of receiving the counterpetition.
If the father signed papers at the hospital acknowledging that he was the father of the child in question, paternity is established as a matter of law.
Both parties may read the Rules of Court or relevant chapters of the Florida Statutes for additional information on the Paternity process
These videos are available as an alternative to the text descriptions above. The videos attempt to provide information on common issues that self-represented people have in paternity cases. Please note that these videos are not legal advice, and cannot be relied upon as such. If you have questions about this video or about the paternity case process that are not answered by these videos, please consult an attorney.
The Paternity Case Process
What to Do If You've Been Served with a Paternity Case
Forms Relating to a Paternity Action
There are a number of forms that can relate to a Paternity action --The forms below are those that are required for court action in a paternity case. If you have any questions about which form you need, please contact a lawyer.
12.983(a) Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief - 10/01/2011
12.983(b) Answer to Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief - 12/2011
12.983(c) Answer to Petition and Counterpetition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief - 10/01/2011
12.983(d) Answer to Counterpetition - 09/21/2000
12.983(e) Motion for Scientific Paternity Testing - 09/21/2000
12.983(f) Order on Motion for Scientific Paternity Testing - 09/21/2000
12.983(g) Final Judgment of Paternity - 05/2012
For locations of courthouses, clerks' offices, or legal assistance programs in each circuit/county in Florida, please refer to the State Map, which allows users to select their county circuit by region and see locations that may be important to them.
The State of Florida Map