The benefits of legally determining paternity in Florida

Paternity is important because it establishes the legal father of a child and, as such, provides legal rights to the child, father and mother. In addition to the emotional benefits that legally establishing paternity provides to a child, legally establishing paternity also provides important rights for the child. In addition to the child knowing the identity of the father, there are also several tangible benefits of a legal determination of paternity.

Rights children can obtain access to following a legal determination of paternity include: family medical history; having the father's name on their birth certificate; health or life insurance from either of their parents; support from both parents, including child support and medical support; and Social Security or veterans' benefits, as well as child support.

Once legal paternity is determined, both parents can seek a child support order and a child custody agreement, which can determine visitation and legal custody of the child, the latter of which refers to who has the right to make important decisions concerning the child. For children born to an unmarried mother, legal paternity must be determined and the family law court provides a process to do that through a paternity action. Either parent can initiate a paternity action and the court can order DNA testing to determine paternity.

A legal determination of paternity is important for children and families and the family law system provides resources to help. Once paternity has been determined, additional options, including child support and child custody, are available to help families.

Source: Florida Department of Revenue, "Paternity," Accessed Sept. 11, 2017

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