5 Ways Florida Establishes Paternity

Establishing paternity is an important legal process that guarantees certain rights both to the parents as well as a measure of legal and economic protection to the child itself. It allows the father to officially recognize his child and enjoy full involvement in its upbringing. Paternity is also crucial in securing either custody or visitation rights if the couple doesn’t decide to raise the child together. Similarly, establishing paternity gives the mother a right to take steps in order to obtain child support benefits from the father. Last but not least, establishing paternity also benefits the child in many vital ways. For example, insurance or health benefits as well as rights to inherit from the father’s estate can be available to a child only if the father has been legally established.

In case of married couples, it is automatically assumed that the mother’s husband is the father of the child. If the child has been born out of wedlock, however, certain steps must be taken according to the Florida family law in order to legally establish paternity. In this blog post, we present 5 of them.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is a form that can be filled by both parents either at the time of the child’s birth or before provided that they agree on the identity of the biological father. The information provided by both parties is given under oath. The acknowledgment comes into effect within 60 days after it has been signed. By the virtue of the form, the father obtains all the legal rights pertaining to a father such as visitation rights, the right to having a parental relationship with the child, and so on. The information provided in the form can also be used to establish a duty to pay child support.

Informal Paternity Statement

If for some reason the acknowledgment form has not been filled out by the time of birth, the unmarried couple can prepare an informal document that establishes the identity of the father. Such a document must contain basic information about the parents and the child and signed in the presence of the notary. The document must be then filed with the nearest family court.

Legitimation

If the mother and the father of a child born out of wedlock marry later on, the paternity may be established through a process called legitimation. This requires updating the child’s birth certificate. It can be achieved by providing a sworn written statement to the Clerk of Court or by filing the Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida form.

Administrative Order or Court Order

If there are doubts regarding the identity of the biological father, genetic testing may be used to solve the controversy and establish paternity. If both the mother and the supposed father are willing to cooperate, they may schedule an appointment with the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR). The test takes place at a local Child Support office. The genetic samples are collected by a mouth swab and the results are sent by mail within 2 weeks.

Both the mother and the supposed father can also bring a paternity action in court. A hearing will be scheduled at which both parties must be present. The judge may order genetic testing to be done in order to prove who the biological father is. Once the judge decides who the biological father is, a court order will be issued and the birth certificate will be updated.

Seek Legal Help with Paternity Issues

Rotella & Hernandez are experienced family law attorneys in Florida who can help you if you are experiencing legal problems related to establishing paternity. Please contact us using our contact form on this website or by calling 786-571-8472 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.

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