Five Ways To Establish Paternity In Florida
Both parents have rights and responsibilities with respect to minor children, but custody, visitation, and support issues are not reserved solely for the divorce process. These matters also impact unmarried parents, though under a separate body of Florida family laws. The state statute on parentage covers what you may know familiarly as paternity. Once it is established, both parents have the power to participate in decision-making and parenting time – and both have an obligation to provide support.
Therefore, the key to your parental rights is obtaining legal, official recognition of paternity. There are multiple options to achieve this objective, though it is wise to get assistance from a Dade City family attorney to avoid mistakes. A summary of the laws should give you some insight on the process.
Ways to Establish Parentage in Florida
In general, paternity of a child is a product of the relationship between the parents at the time of birth and how they address the circumstances. There are five scenarios through which parentage is determined:
- Legal Presumption: When the child’s mother is married at the time of birth, her spouse will be presumed to be the legal father. This presumption can be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, and it does not operate to establish paternity if the mother does not include her spouse’s name on the birth certificate.
- Affirmation After Marriage: Parents who are not married when the child is born can still obtain recognition of parentage if they later tie the knot. It is necessary to complete the appropriate documents for affirmation first, but the father’s name can then be legally added to the birth certificate.
- Agreed Paternity: Unmarried parents can agree on the paternity of their child by executing an Acknowledgement of Paternity, either before a notary public or with two witnesses who also sign the document and is then filed with the Clerk of the Court. This option is not available if the mother was married when the child was born, since the legal presumption described above recognizes her spouse as the father.
- Paternity Court Case: Disputes over parentage must go to court, and the proceedings can be initiated by either parent. Typically, the most important piece of evidence in a paternity case will be DNA.
- Child Support Services: A mother can work through the administrative process to establish paternity for purposes of receiving child support. The matter usually involves DNA testing of the alleged father. Determining parentage through this route has the same legal effect as the others described above.
Learn More by Consulting with a Pasco County Paternity Lawyer
As you can see, paternity does not always require the mother seeking court a determination of parentage for purposes of child support. These issues run both ways, fathers have rights as well as responsibilities; plus, paternity laws apply to same-sex couples in Florida. For more information on options and implications of establishing paternity, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. You can schedule a consultation at our offices in Dade City, FL by calling 352-567-0055 or filling out our online contact form.