In the State of Florida establishing paternity is the legal recognition of a father’s parental relationship with his child. In order to exercise your legal rights as a father the Court must enter a Final Judgment Establishing Paternity. Establishing paternity relates to the duties, responsibilities, and rights with respect to the child. There is a legal presumption that the husband is the father of a child born to a married couple.
If the couple is not married at the time of the child’s birth there is no legal presumption that the man is the father. In this case the mother and the father can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. This form is usually completed at the hospital after the child’s birth. It allows the father’s name to be listed on the child’s birth certificate. The unmarried father should register with the State of Florida Putative Father Registry. The father must still file a Court action to enforce his legal rights. If the couple marries after the birth they can sign a Legitimation Form. This provides the same rights as if the parents were married at the time of the child’s birth.
- Parental Relationship – An unmarried father may wish to have a parental relationship with the child including all rights and responsibilities. This may include time-sharing rights as well as the right to seek majority parenting time.
- Child Support – The mother may want to seek child support from a father that does not acknowledge or accept the responsibilities of parenthood.
- Contesting Adoption – The father may want to contest an adoption upon receiving notice thereof.
- Paternity Suit – A paternity suit may have been filed against someone who knows he is not the father of the child, and disestablishment of paternity can be pursued.
The parties involved may voluntarily enter into an agreement that establishes the father’s identity, which must be ratified by the Court and entered as a Final Judgment Establishing Paternity. If paternity cannot be established voluntarily then the Court must decide the issue. The Court may require DNA testing.
Paternity suits can also be filed by the State of Florida if the mother receives public assistance. The State will initiate the action to recover from the father monies paid to the mother by the State of Florida.
Once paternity is established, the Court will enter a Final Judgment Establishing Paternity. The father will then be legally bound to pay child support, and may benefit from all of his parental rights. The child may also be entitled to inheritance from the father, to be covered by health insurance under the father’s group policy, to receive Social Security benefits if the father becomes disabled or dies, to receive wrongful death benefits, and to receive medical history information. If paternity cannot established the case may be dismissed.
Each case is unique, and there are never guarantees regarding the outcome. It is critical to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Laura Callahan, P.A., will assist you if you are seeking to establish paternity, are facing a paternity suit, are contesting an adoption, or are faced with child support or time-sharing issues. Laura Callahan, P.A., will evaluate your situation and explain your options.
Laura Callahan, P.A., will provide the legal assistance you need to pursue this journey.