As the father of a child or children, you have a lot of responsibilities. The emotional and mental labor that comes with being a parent makes it one of the hardest jobs in the world. And while this job can be done without any official documents or signatures to prove your connection to your child, it is understandable if a man wants to establish paternity and claim the right to see or care for their children.
The process to get your name on a birth certificate, however, can’t always be done overnight. With many different family situations, there are also many paths to paternity. Look through the following processes for establishing paternity in Florida and see what best applies to your situation.
Methods to Legally Establish Paternity
Child Is Born, Parents Are Married: This is the ideal situation for fathers. When a child is born and the father is married to the mother, his name is automatically placed on the child’s birth certificate.
Child is Born, Parents Are Not Married: If you have not married the mother of your child, it is in your best interest to be at the hospital for the child’s birth. Parents can mutually volunteer to place the father’s name on the birth certificate when the child arrives. However, it is important to note that if the mother is married to someone else, paternity cannot be established in this way.
Child Is under 18, Parents Are Unmarried: If the mother was not married at the child’s birth, paternity can be voluntarily established at any time. The Acknowledgement of Paternity Form must be filled out by the parents and signed with two witnesses and a notary public present. Within 60 days of filling out the form, paternity will be established, and neither parent can revoke this.
Child Is under 18, Parents Are Getting Married: This process can also be completed if unmarried parents are applying for a marriage license. The process can be done by filling out a form called The Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida.
Paternity is Ordered by the Court: If both parties refuse to voluntarily establish paternity, things may get tricky. Parents may head to court to establish paternity for a number of reasons, including:
- To receive child support
- To obtain visitation rights (“parenting time”)
- To obtain health insurance benefits for the child
Whatever the reasoning is for establishing paternity, it will have to be done in a Florida court where the mother or alleged father lives (until paternity is established, the man in question is referred to as the “alleged father”).
The alleged father needs to be in court for paternity hearings if he is trying to dispute paternity. If he does not appear, he may be automatically deemed the father and ordered to pay child support. Most paternity cases are established in a court through genetic testing: the mother, alleged father, and child will all undergo testing.
After paternity is ordered, a judge may also make decisions about parenting time, custody, and so on. Without these orders from a judge, however, Florida assumes that the mother will have sole legal custody of the child.
Establishing paternity is not always a simple matter, and can take months. Want to make the process go smoothly, reduce your stress, and increase your chances of success? Call a Florida family lawyer today.