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Establishing Paternity in Florida

The majority of children are born to two parents who ready and willing to care for their child, whether the couple is in a committed relationship or not. But in some cases the biological father refuses to acknowledge the child, while in others, the mother is the one who refuses to make the acknowledgement. In these situations, it is necessary to file a paternity action to establish parental rights.

Florida Paternity Laws

Paternity establishes who the child’s legal father is. Establishing paternity protects the rights of the mother, father and the child. When paternity is established, the mother has the ability to obtain child support from the father, while the father has the right to be awarded custody and/or visitation, and to make decisions regarding his child’s care.

The child benefits by receiving financial and emotional support from both parents. This financial support extends beyond just child support. Establishing paternity gives the child the right to health insurance through his father’s plan, as well as rights of inheritance through not only the father, but through the father’s parents, siblings and extended family as well.

There are five means of establishing paternity in Florida:

Marriage: If the mother is married at the time of the child’s birth, her husband is assumed to be the child’s father. Nothing must be done to establish paternity, and the father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate.

Acknowledgement of paternity: If the parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, both parents can sign a Paternity Acknowledgement form. This can be done at the hospital when the child is born, or at a later date. The father’s name will be placed on the birth certificate when the acknowledgement is signed.

Administrative order based on genetic testing: The Florida Department of Revenue can help establish paternity through genetic testing. Both the mother, alleged father and child must submit to the test.

Court order: If either the mother or father won’t acknowledge the father’s paternity, and will not submit to genetic testing, a petition to establish paternity must be filed with the court. The judge can order the mother, alleged father and the child to undergo genetic testing to determine paternity.

Legitimation: If the mother and alleged father marry following the child’s birth, they may update the record of the child’s birth with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.

Once paternity is established, the mother may file a motion seeking child support, while the father may petition the court for custody, visitation and/or child support.

Boca Raton Parental Rights Attorneys

Whether you are an unmarried mother or the biological father of a child and need to establish paternity in order to solidify your parental rights, the Boca Raton paternity lawyers at Schwartz | White can help. Our family law attorneys have a combined 50+ years’ experience handling paternity, child support and child custody cases. We will quickly work to establish paternity to ensure that your child has the financial and emotional support of both parents. Contact our office today at 561-391-9943 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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