Three Methods to Establishing Paternity in Florida
When a married woman gives birth, there is an assumption that the husband is the father of the child. But what happens when the mother is unmarried? What if she knows who the father is, but he won’t step up and take responsibility? Like other states, Florida allows for several methods of determining paternity which can help with establishing benefits, child support, etc. If you have questions on the process and/or legal obligations, we highly recommend speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced Boca Raton paternity attorney.
Legal Acknowledgement of Paternity
If the birth mother and father agree to who the father is, both parties can complete and sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital. This can be done either at the hospital when the baby is born or later. However, there cannot be anyone else listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate. This is the quickest and easiest method of establishing paternity.
Paternity by Legitimation
In the event the mother is unmarried at the time of birth, but later marries the father of her baby, you can establish paternity when applying for a marriage license. In order to update the birth certificate, you must provide specific documentation to the Court Clerk’s office.
Filing a Paternity Action
Some prospective fathers believe that if they don’t establish paternity, they are free and clear of any legal obligations and don’t need to pay child support. A mother has the right, however, to file a Petition to Establish Paternity so she can pursue an award for child support. Just because a father fails to take any action does not mean his obligations cease to exist. Mothers can file the petition at any time, provided the child is still a minor. And, she can even ask for child support to be retroactive for up to 24 months before the petition was filed.
Be advised, not showing up for the paternity hearing won’t make it go away. The court may issue an order naming someone as the father despite failing to appear at the hearing after receiving valid service of a paternity hearing. It’s challenging to get an order of paternity reversed. This is one scenario where it’s imperative to have a good Florida family law attorney on your side.
Registering for the Florida Putative Father Registry
There are a number of potential fathers out there who want to be involved and pay child support. For a man who believes he fathered a child, he can file with the Putative Father Registry. In a case where a child is placed for adoption, there must be a search done through the registry first. In the event there is a match, the adoption cannot be finalized unless the father gives his consent or terminates his rights.
Retaining a Boca Raton Paternity Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, we assist mothers who seek to prove paternity as well as potential fathers who either seek to prove or challenge a claim of fatherhood. We have more than 50 years of combined experience helping Boca Raton-area clients with family law matters. Contact us today at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.