How to establish paternity in the state of Florida

Just because a man is the biological father of a child does not mean that he is the legal father of the child. If at the time a child is born the mother and father are not married, the child has no legal father. This means that the child is not able to receive any social security or military benefits through the biological father nor will the child necessarily know who his or her father is.

A father may be able to gain paternity of the child by marrying the child's mother and notifying the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, getting a court order to do so or by establishing paternity through a genetic test. In the event that the parents of a child are not married when the child is born, it may be possible to both parents to sign a document acknowledging paternity for the father.

When paternity is established, it may obligate the father to provide support to the child even if he is not otherwise a part of the child's life. However, a father may be able to petition for child custody or other parental rights to the child as well as possibly having input into decisions made regarding the child.

A family law attorney may be able to draft a document that the mother and father can sign to acknowledge that the biological child's biological parents are its legal parents and to establish the fathers' rights to the child. It may also be possible to take steps that may lead to a genetic test to prove paternity.

Source: Florida Department of Revenue, "Establishing Legal Paternity", August 06, 2014

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