When a child is born out of wedlock in the State of Florida, it’s important to formally establish paternity so that the biological father may avail himself of the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. If paternity is not established, certain benefits may be denied to a parent or child, such as:
- Inheritance rights
- Life insurance
- Income tax deductions
- Child support
- Custody, visitation rights, etc. (called a “parenting plan” in Florida)
- Social Security benefits from a deceased or disabled parent
- Veteran’s benefits
Obtaining child support and payment for bills associated with the pregnancy are the primary motivations behind initiating a paternity action, which is a civil lawsuit brought against a father by the child’s unmarried mother.
Establishing paternity in Florida may be accomplished in several ways, not all of which involve the court system:
A man is automatically presumed to be the legal father of a child if he’s married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. However, he might not be the biological father and may wish to challenge paternity to avoid paying child support in the event of a divorce.
If the biological parents are unmarried when the child is born, and they both agree on who the father is, then an affidavit of paternity can be completed at the hospital at the time of birth or at a later date.
If the biological parents get married following the child’s birth, then they can update the child’s birth record with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics by sending the office a copy of their marriage certificate, along with a completed Acknowledgement of Paternity form.
4) Administrative Order
Paternity may be established administratively (i.e., without having to go through the court system) if the mother and prospective father agree to genetic testing, and the result of the test proves that the man is the child’s biological father.
5) Court Order
If a prospective father does not consent to genetic testing, it can be mandated via court order. If the DNA test proves that he is the father, then the court will decide that paternity has been established.
Contact us today if you have questions regarding paternity, or if you would like to file or challenge a paternity action.