In Florida, paternity refers to the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child. Establishing paternity can have important legal and financial implications, including child support, child custody, and time-sharing. Many fathers are unaware that from the moment they acknowledge paternity, they have all of the obligations of parenthood, but none of the rights of custody or time-sharing, at least as Florida law currently provides. Stay tuned because a bill is pending in the Florida legislature that will have a tremendous impact on the current state of the law is it relates to unmarried fathers.
There are several ways to establish paternity in Florida:
Marriage: If a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the father and his name will be listed on the child's birth certificate.
Acknowledgment of paternity: If the parents are not married, they can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form, which legally establishes the father's paternity.
Court order: A court can establish the father’s legal paternity in a court proceeding, ordering DNA testing to establish paternity if either parent contests the paternity or if paternity is otherwise in question. As it stands right now, only through a court process will the father obtain legal custody and time-sharing with their child.
Once paternity is established, the father has legal rights and responsibilities regarding the child, including the obligation to pay child support and the right to seek custody and time-sharing. It is important to consult with an attorney to understand the legal implications of establishing paternity in Florida.
In Florida, there are different ways to establish paternity depending on the situation. Here are some general steps for filing for and establishing paternity:
Gather information: You will need to gather information about the child, the mother, and the alleged father, including names, birth dates, and contact information.
File the necessary paperwork: If you need to file a petition for paternity, you will need to file it with the appropriate court. The petition will include information about the child, the mother, the alleged father, and other relevant details.
Serve the other party: Once you file a petition for paternity, you will need to serve the other party with the paperwork. This means providing them with a copy of the petition and any other relevant documents through a person authorized by law to put the papers in the other parent’s hands.
Attend court hearings: Depending on the situation, there may be court hearings or other legal proceedings related to the paternity case. It is important to attend all scheduled hearings and comply with any court orders.
Follow up: Once paternity is established, you may need to take additional steps, such as arranging for child support to be paid, registering with the State Disbursement Unit if required, or working with your employer to deduct the child support from you paycheck.
It is important to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand your legal rights and obligations regarding paternity in Florida.