How Much Does It Cost To Establish Paternity In Florida? A Detailed Look

Determining legal paternity is important for unmarried parents in Florida, but the costs can be unclear. If you just want a quick answer, expect to spend around $300-$500 in basic legal and court fees if both parents are cooperative. Contested cases or those involving attorneys cost more.

Establishing legal paternity in Florida brings certain rights and obligations for unmarried parents. This comprehensive guide examines the costs and processes involved in voluntary and contested paternity cases, including DNA testing, legal fees, and court costs. We’ll provide a detailed breakdown of expenses at each step so you can determine your potential paternity costs in Florida.

Basic Costs for Uncontested Paternity

DNA Testing

One of the first steps in establishing paternity is DNA testing. This is typically done through a simple cheek swab, and the cost can vary depending on the provider. On average, DNA testing for paternity in Florida ranges from $200 to $500.

It’s important to choose a reputable and accredited laboratory to ensure accurate results. Websites like provide reliable information about DNA testing services and costs.

Filing Fees

When establishing paternity in Florida, there are certain legal documents that need to be filed with the court. These include a Petition to Determine Paternity and an Affidavit of Paternity. The filing fees for these documents vary depending on the county, but they typically range from $200 to $400.

It’s important to check with the local courthouse or visit their official website for the most up-to-date information on filing fees.

Serving Papers

After the legal documents have been filed, they need to be served to the other party involved. This is typically done by a process server or a sheriff’s deputy. The cost for serving papers can vary depending on the location and the complexity of the case.

On average, serving papers for a paternity case in Florida can range from $50 to $150.

Total Estimated Costs

When adding up the basic costs for establishing paternity in Florida, including DNA testing, filing fees, and serving papers, the total estimated cost can range from $450 to $1050. However, it’s important to note that these are just the basic costs and additional expenses may arise depending on the circumstances of the case.

It’s always recommended to consult with a family law attorney to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

Contested Paternity Case Costs

When it comes to contested paternity cases in Florida, there are several factors that contribute to the overall cost. These include attorney fees, multiple DNA tests, expert witnesses, and additional court costs.

Attorney Fees

One of the major expenses in a contested paternity case is the cost of hiring an attorney. Attorneys typically charge an hourly rate for their services, which can vary depending on their level of experience and the complexity of the case.

It is important to find an attorney who specializes in family law and has experience handling paternity cases to ensure the best possible outcome.

Multiple DNA Tests

In contested paternity cases, multiple DNA tests may be required to establish or disprove paternity. These tests can range in cost depending on the laboratory used and the number of individuals involved.

It is important to note that the cost of DNA testing is typically the responsibility of the parties involved, and it is not covered by insurance.

Expert Witnesses

In some cases, expert witnesses may be needed to provide testimony or analysis on complex scientific or medical issues related to paternity. These expert witnesses can be costly, as their fees are typically based on their level of expertise and the amount of time required for their involvement in the case.

Additional Court Costs

In addition to attorney fees, DNA tests, and expert witnesses, there are also additional court costs associated with contested paternity cases. These costs can include filing fees, document preparation fees, and other administrative expenses.

It is important to budget for these additional costs when considering the overall cost of establishing paternity.

It is worth noting that the cost of establishing paternity can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of the case. It is recommended to consult with an attorney to get a better understanding of the potential costs involved in your particular situation.

Establishing Custody & Child Support

Filing for Custody

When it comes to establishing custody in Florida, there are a few important steps to follow. The first step is to determine whether you are seeking sole custody or joint custody. Sole custody means that one parent has full legal and physical custody of the child, while joint custody means that both parents share legal and physical custody.

To file for custody, you will need to submit the necessary paperwork to the family court in your county. This paperwork typically includes a petition for custody, which outlines your reasons for seeking custody and any relevant information about the child’s best interests.

You may also need to provide supporting documentation, such as evidence of your relationship with the child or any concerns about the other parent’s ability to care for the child.

It’s important to note that establishing custody can be a complex and emotional process. It’s often beneficial to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal requirements and help protect your rights as a parent.

Filing for Child Support

Once custody has been established, the next step is to file for child support. Child support is financial assistance provided by the noncustodial parent to help cover the costs of raising the child. In Florida, child support is determined based on a formula that takes into account the income of both parents, the number of overnights each parent has with the child, and other relevant factors.

To file for child support, you will need to complete and submit the necessary paperwork to the Florida Department of Revenue’s Child Support Program. This paperwork typically includes an application for services, which asks for information about both parents’ income, expenses, and the child’s needs.

You may also need to provide supporting documentation, such as pay stubs or tax returns.

It’s important to file for child support as soon as possible to ensure that your child’s financial needs are being met. If you have any questions or concerns about the child support process, it’s recommended to reach out to the Florida Department of Revenue or consult with a family law attorney.

Modifying Existing Orders

In some cases, it may be necessary to modify existing custody or child support orders. This could be due to a change in circumstances, such as a parent’s relocation, a significant change in income, or a change in the child’s needs.

To modify an existing order, you will need to file a petition with the family court in your county.

The court will consider various factors when deciding whether to modify an existing order, including the best interests of the child. It’s important to provide evidence and documentation to support your request for modification.

This could include financial records, medical records, or other relevant information.

If you are considering modifying an existing order, it’s recommended to consult with a family law attorney who can assess your situation and guide you through the legal process. They can help you gather the necessary evidence and present a strong case for modification.

Government Assistance Options

Establishing paternity is an important step for both parents and children, as it provides legal rights and benefits. However, the cost of establishing paternity in Florida can sometimes be a concern for individuals with limited financial resources.

Fortunately, the state offers several government assistance options to help alleviate the financial burden. Here are some of the options available:

State-Provided DNA Tests

One of the main expenses associated with establishing paternity is the cost of DNA testing. In Florida, the state provides an option for individuals who cannot afford the cost of private DNA tests. The Florida Department of Revenue offers a program called the Genetic Testing Program, which provides free or low-cost DNA tests to determine paternity.

This program is especially beneficial for low-income individuals who may not have the financial means to pay for private testing.

Filing Fee Waivers

In addition to the cost of DNA testing, there are also filing fees that need to be paid when initiating a paternity case. However, individuals who are unable to afford these fees may qualify for a filing fee waiver.

The Florida courts provide a process for individuals to request a waiver of court fees based on their financial situation. If approved, the filing fees associated with establishing paternity can be waived, making it more affordable for individuals who are in need of assistance.

Free Legal Aid

Legal representation is important when dealing with paternity cases, but the cost of hiring an attorney can be a barrier for many individuals. Fortunately, there are organizations in Florida that provide free legal aid to individuals who cannot afford an attorney.

These organizations specialize in family law and can offer guidance and representation throughout the paternity establishment process. Some examples of organizations that offer free legal aid in Florida include Legal Aid of Manasota and Florida Rural Legal Services.

Their services can help ensure that individuals have access to the legal support they need, regardless of their financial situation.

It’s important to note that eligibility requirements may apply for these government assistance options, and individuals should reach out to the respective organizations or agencies for more information.

Establishing paternity is a crucial step, and these assistance options can help make it more accessible and affordable for those who need it.


The costs of establishing paternity in Florida can range dramatically depending on if the case is contested and if attorneys are involved. Most straightforward uncontested cases cost $300-$500 in DNA, legal filings, and court fees. But costs quickly escalate for contested cases. Understanding your options for financial assistance and the typical expenses involved can help you better budget for this important legal process.

Similar Posts