Establishing paternity is more than just taking a paternity test and it's important for various reasons. However, complications can arise when the alleged father does not want to participate in the process of finding out if they are the father of the child or children.
In this blog article, we'll cover the process of establishing paternity for a child, paternity test, and the benefits of having a paternity lawyer on your side when going through this process.
Why is Establishing Paternity Rights Important?
Establishing paternity for a child is important for both the child and the parents. Below are some of the benefits of knowing the paternity of a child:
- Having family medical information
- Having the father's name on the birth certificate
- Having financial support from two parents
- Having rights to the father's Social Security and VA benefits
Often, establishing paternity allows each parent the legal right to seek a child support order from the court or to request a court order for parenting time with the child.
How to Establish Paternity in Florida
There are four main ways in which paternity is usually established in Florida:
Acknowledgement of Paternity – If the child's parents are unmarried when the child is born, the father can sign a “Paternity Acknowledgement” form in the hospital in the presence of a notary. Once the person signs this form, they become the child's legal father. Please note that this form can be completed at any point until the child turns 18 if the parents remain unmarried.
Presumption of Paternity – If a child is born to two parents married to each other, there is a presumption that the husband is the child's father. If the mother fails to list the husband as the father on the child's birth certificate, the issue of paternity must be addressed in court.
Future Marriage – If the mother is unmarried at the time of birth but later marries the child's father, the husband will still need to fill out a specific form to add their name to the child's birth certificate. Both parents must submit the “Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida” form.
Court Order – If paternity is not established by any of the other ways mentioned in this list, a parent can file a civil action in circuit court to ask the court to determine the paternity of a child.
If a court order is needed, a judge will hear both sides of the case and consider the evidence before issuing a court order to establish paternity. If an alleged father does not attend a paternity hearing they were notified of, the judge may “default” the alleged father and establish paternity in their absence. The court may also order a paternity test, or genetic testing, to obtain evidence of paternity. One or both parents may be ordered to pay for paternity testing and any additional court costs arising from the paternity hearing.
Once paternity has been established, a father is obligated by Florida law to contribute financially to support his child. Fathers can also seek visitation and custody privileges.
Why Would You Need a Paternity Attorney?
While establishing paternity seems like it would be a reasonably straightforward process, there are many reasons to work with a paternity lawyer, such as:
- Especially for unmarried fathers, establishing paternity can be a complex process. An experienced paternity lawyer can work with you to try and secure equal rights and responsibilities for your child as their mother.
- Filing the appropriate paperwork can be tedious and time-consuming. A paternity lawyer can help streamline this process and make sure you have the proper paperwork and documents to support your case.
- A paternity lawyer can also help if you suspect paternity fraud. While this is not very common, sometimes a mother will knowingly falsely document a man as the father of a child who is not the true biological father.
If you believe you are the father of a child, or you are a mother whose father is not acknowledging their child, you should work with an experienced paternity lawyer as soon as possible. At Family Matters Law Group, we take each case individually and provide tailored solutions to that individual family's legal and emotional needs. Contact us today to discuss your particular situation and your family's goals.