Collaborative Paternity

Paternity is a legal proceeding that establishes a child's father. Paternity applies to unmarried parents who share a child whose father has not acknowledged paternity before the child turns 18. Mothers do not need to establish paternity because it is evident at the hospital that the mother is the child's parent. Most often, married fathers do not need to establish paternity for their children, even upon divorce. If not established previously, paternity can be a significant obstacle for mothers and fathers when establishing legal and physical custody, child support, and parenting time.

Often, establishing paternity can be a hassle for either or both parents. Difficulties can arise when either parent does not want the father to acknowledge paternity. Sometimes these disputes require traditional courtroom litigation, which can be lengthy, expensive, and adversarial. Until relatively recently, courtroom litigation has been one of the few methods available for unmarried parents. Legal professionals created a new collaborative paternity process because litigation does not typically provide families with a positive foundation for raising a child.

Florida Collaborative Paternity Attorney

If you are navigating the collaborative paternity process, Bacchus Law Firm can answer any questions you may have. Our Florida family law attorneys have years of experience assisting families in divorce, child support and paternity cases. Our staff will always listen compassionately and attentively to your needs.

We are prepared to provide you with the best advice for your particular case. Call (954) 500-5555 to secure a free consultation with Bacchus Law Firm today. Our office is centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse.

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Information Center

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Collaborative Paternity in Florida

Collaborative paternity is a form of alternative dispute resolution that provides a more peaceful approach to resolving paternity disputes. Unlike a courtroom, collaborative paternity involves negotiations and mutual problem-solving in an informal setting. Often, collaborative meetings occur in casual office settings. Like a court case before a judge, the collaborative paternity process can resolve issues and disputes unique to a specific family, including legal and physical custody, parenting time schedules, and child support. These topics provide both parents considerable opportunity to address all concerns about issues that directly impact the child, such as:

  • Healthcare practices and medical decisions
  • Religious upbringing
  • Schooling
  • Living arrangements
  • Time spent with the child
  • Finances

Depending on the parents and their unique circumstances, some parents will only have a few issues to resolve while others will have to address all issues. Like other types of family law issues, paternity cases can involve experts, including healthcare providers, psychologists, and financial experts.

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What Do Parents Need To Do To Participate In Collaborative Paternity?

Although collaborative paternity resolves disputes outside the courtroom, both parents are still obligated to follow Florida paternity laws. To ensure that both parents are treated fairly throughout the process, both parents are required to hire an attorney to represent them. Collaborative paternity attorneys typically specialize in family law and issues about children and have additional training and experience in collaborative law practices. Because collaborative paternity is relatively new, not all family law attorneys have the training and experience required. Parents interested in collaborative paternity should start looking for an attorney as soon as possible.

Once parents find attorneys, all four participants—both parents and the two attorneys—will enter into a collaborative paternity agreement. These agreements address the expectations of the attorneys and parents and address the following:

  • Identify all issues that the parents need to address
  • Promise to communicate and openly and honestly
  • Make every effort to resolve all issues about parenting
  • If there is not a complete agreement, the parents must hire new attorneys for litigation
  • Responsibility for attorney fees

The attorneys might also enter agreements with their respective parents. These agreements are common to all types of lawsuits and outline expectations for the attorney and parent. After the agreement is drafted, parents will have several opportunities to meet with their attorneys individually to address goals, desires, and areas for compromise. There will also be several scheduled negotiations which all four parties attend. During these negotiations, the parents can openly and directly state what they think is best for their child. Parents work towards compromises under the guidance of their attorneys. Parents can take breaks during negotiations to consider each other's suggestions and get advice from their attorneys.

Before starting a collaborative approach, parents should understand that it is not the same as mediation. Although parents can mediate many parenting disputes, mediation requires a trained, neutral mediator to guide negotiations. Mediators lead negotiations rather than parents' attorneys, and unlike collaborative law, mediation is much easier to walk away without any agreements if the attempt is unsuccessful.

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Benefits And Drawbacks Of The Collaborative Paternity Process

Speaking to a trained collaborative paternity attorney is the best way to know whether the process is a good fit for a particular family. An attorney can further explain the following benefits and drawbacks typical of collaborative law.


Paternity often involves very personal details about each parent's life. Collaborative law negotiations are confidential, whereas hearings in a courtroom are open to the public, and a reporter keeps a record of everything spoken.

Less Stress

Preparing for and attending hearings and trials is typically stressful and can result in anxiety. Collaborative processes can be stressful, but the informal environment and ability to communicate more directly often result in greater security and less stress.


Courtroom hearings and trials are often expensive. Because collaborative paternity avoids costly litigation and instead requires scheduled negotiation sessions, parents can usually expect to pay fewer costs. Parents typically split the cost if experts are hired, unlike litigation, where parents hire separate experts.

Quicker Resolution

Courtroom litigation for paternity cases can last longer than a year. With a collaborative process, parents can agree in significantly less time.

Voluntary Participation

Parents can choose to participate and can choose to leave when issues remain unresolved. Courtroom litigation cannot be stopped so easily, and a parent who does not wish to be in cannot simply leave whenever desired.

Mutual Decisions

Custody and parenting time determinations can have lifelong consequences for both parents. When parents resort to litigation, they leave these major life decisions for judges to decide. When parents choose a collaborative approach, they immediately know the outcome of their case and do not have to wait for a judge to decide their futures. Additionally, all decisions will have been negotiated and based on compromise. Parents who negotiate their outcome usually feel more empowered and optimistic about their futures than parents who go to court.

Sets Expectations And Builds Relationships

Collaborative paternity negotiations help each parent set more realistic expectations for each other and their lives as co-parents. Additionally, parents can work through challenging topics as co-parents and learn how to communicate more effectively.

Legal Representation

Although the process is collaborative, both parents can still expect their attorneys to provide legal advice and advocate for their interests. Attorneys can both lead negotiations and give parents time to discuss their interests. Because of the formality of a courtroom, parents typically have few opportunities to speak for themselves.

Ineffective For Some Couples

A solid commitment to mutual resolution is required. Parents with severe interpersonal conflicts are unlikely to be successful in a collaborative environment. Parents with protective orders of domestic violence may be prohibited from participating in collaborative paternity.

Costly Consequences Of No Resolution

Parents who cannot completely resolve issues outlined in the collaborative law paternity agreement will be required to hire new attorneys and start over. Starting over can result in a lengthy courtroom proceeding and considerably greater costs. Parents interested in collaborative resolution must consider these drawbacks seriously before entering an agreement.

Parents should not assume they cannot collaborate because they do not agree on everything. It is expected that parents will disagree, become frustrated, and struggle to reach an agreement. The key to a successful collaborative process is strong motivation to mutually decide their child's future and a shared desire to reach agreements.

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Additional Resources

Florida Parentage Laws – The Florida Legislature website provides all paternity laws that parents must follow in the courtroom and in collaborative paternity.

Collaborative Law Process Act – The Florida Legislature website provides all definitions and laws for collaborative resolutions.

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Florida Collaborative Paternity Lawyer | Broward County, FL

If you are pursuing the collaborative paternity process in Broward County, FL, contact Bacchus Law Firm. Our legal team has practiced family law for years and understand the ends and outs of the Florida family law court system. Work with a Fort Lauderdale collaborative family lawyer now to receive a favorable outcome in your case.

We serve clients throughout the Miami-metropolitan area including Miami, West Palm Beach, East Naples, or LaBelle, Florida. Call (954) 500-5555 to set up a free consultation with Bacchus Law Firm today.

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