NFL star embroiled in a paternity and parenthood controversy

Florida football fans will find it interesting to learn that, according to reports, a woman seeking to establish former NFL star Hines Ward as the father of the woman's young daughter recently filed a complaint.

In response to the complaint, Mr. Ward indicated that he did submit a blood sample for determination of paternity shortly after the girl was born in 2011, and that DNA testing confirmed that he is the father. It appears that the NFL star will still need to address the issues of father's rights and child support, however. Notably, even though there is no official court order in place detailing his monthly obligation, Ward has provided substantial support. According to Ward, he has spent time with the little girl and hopes contact will continue in the future.

For Florida parents facing paternity issues, it is important to understand that when a child is born to a married couple, the legal presumption is that the husband is the father. DNA testing to establish paternity is more crucial for unmarried couples with a child. By establishing paternity, the mother of the child may be able to get child support to help raise the child, and the father may be able to get visitation rights. However, if a parent refuses to submit to DNA testing a formal paternity suit can be filed against the alleged father.

Paternity law, child support, visitation and custody issues can be overwhelming. It is usually best for parents to try to work together to resolve these issues, but, when it is not possible to do so, it may be helpful to consider all of the legal options in the matter.

Source: TMZ, "Hines Ward Yes, I Am the Father," Dec. 23, 2012

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