How is Paternity Established in Florida?

In Florida, when a married woman gives birth, the woman’s husband is the presumed father in the eyes of the law. Except in fairly rare situations, the mother and father don’t have to do anything but sign the birth certificate in order to gain all the legal rights and responsibilities that come with being parents. If an unmarried woman gives birth, however, it becomes necessary to establish legal paternity so that the father can be granted all the legal rights and responsibilities that come with fatherhood. There are two main options available when you need to establish paternity in Florida.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

The first option is a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This is a fairly simple form that the mother and presumed father can sign voluntarily to indicate who the father of the child in question is. Once both parties sign this form, it will become finalized after 60 days. If there aren’t any objections within or by those 60 days, neither party can revoke the legal paternity without going through a complex legal process. This is the ideal option in many cases, but if there is any doubt about the paternity of the child in the minds of either parent, this option should not be used.

Courts Establishing Paternity

The other option is going through the courts to establish paternity. This process can be initiated by the child’s mother, a man who believes he is the father of the child (referred to as the “alleged” or “putative” father), the child him/herself, or someone from the Florida Department of Child Support Services. Once this process is started, the courts will take the necessary steps to properly determine paternity. In most cases, this means performing a simple genetic (DNA) test on both the child and the alleged father.

If the genetic test confirms that the alleged father is indeed the biological father, they will be granted all the legal rights and responsibilities that come with it. This can include getting parenting time, having to pay child support, and much more. If the genetic test rules out the alleged father as the biological father, that man will not be granted any of these rights or responsibilities.

Call Us for Help

While on the surface establishing paternity in Florida may appear to be a fairly straightforward process, it is not something you want to attempt on your own. When working through the court system, everything must be handled properly to protect your interests and those of your child. Contact The Law Office of Ray Garcia to learn more about the specific services we can provide to help ensure paternity can be established without any difficulties.