How Do I Establish Paternity in Florida?
Paternity in Florida is becoming a bigger issue, as more and more couples decide to start a relationship, perhaps even live together, and have a child. Although this situation works for many, from a legal standpoint it can bring some complications. This is particularly true if the two people ever break up. In this instance, paternity may have to be established in order for the father to have access to his child, or so the mother can hold the father liable for paying child support. When either of these are the case, how can a parent establish paternity in Florida?
In the best of circumstances, there is no disagreement regarding the paternity of a child. When this is the case, the mother and father can agree to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. After both parties have signed this document, it becomes legally binding 60 days later, providing the father with all the rights and obligations of parenthood. It is important that both parties understand, before signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity, that it is typically permanent and cannot be revoked.
Marriage or Legitimization
When a woman is married at the time of a child’s birth, her husband is considered to be the legal father of the child. Although this may sound traditional, it is not always. This type of legal paternity is still binding even if the man and woman were not married at the time of conception, and even if her husband is not the biological father of the child.
Paternity can also be established through marriage if a man and woman become married after a child is born. This is known as the process of legitimization. In order for a man to be considered the legal father though, he will have to go through a process known as legitimization.
If there is a dispute over paternity, the mother and the alleged father can undergo genetic testing through the Florida Department of Revenue. The Department will collect a swab from the mother, the alleged father, and the child. These swabs will contain each party’s DNA, which the Department will test to determine if there is a match between the child and the alleged father. When a match is made, the Department of Revenue will send an Administrative Order of Paternity to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics to have the father’s name added to the birth certificate.
Although an administrative order gives the mother the right to collect child support, it does not guarantee the father any legal rights. To do that, the mother and father will have to go to court.
Paternity Actions in Court
Paternity actions are lawsuits filed with the court mainly when an alleged father wishes to have at least partial custody of a child, but the mother disputes his claims of paternity. These actions can be brought to court prior to the child’s birth, but a judge will not make a final decision until after the birth and after they can view evidence, such as genetic testing.
In some instances, a woman may file a paternity action with the court in order to claim child support. In this case, the man may receive a summons asking him to appear in court. If the man does not appear, the judge will likely enter a default judgment against him and find that the man is the legal father of the child and therefore, has all the rights and responsibilities of a parent.
Our Florida Lawyers can Help with Your Paternity Case
Establishing paternity in Florida can become quite complicated, particularly if two people are in a dispute over the issue. At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa family law attorneys can help with your paternity dispute whether your are seeking an administrative order or a court order. Call us today at (813) 672-1900 to schedule your free consultation and financing available.