How can paternity be established?

Fathers in Florida play an important role in their child's life. When a child knows who his or her father is, that child benefits greatly. The child will have a greater understanding of his or her medical history, will possibly have access to health insurance through his or her father and most importantly, when a child's father plays an active role in the child's life, it provides the child with love, stability and emotional and financial support.

If a child's parents are married, the husband will be presumed to be the child's father. However, if a child's parents are unmarried, and are no longer in a relationship with one another, in order for the father to pursue child custody or visitation and in order for a mother to seek child support from the father, paternity will need to be established.

There are a number of ways paternity can be established in Florida. Paternity can be established when the child is born by having the child's father and mother sign and have notarized a Paternity Acknowledgement form. If the child's parents are not married when the child is born but do get married in the future, the child's father can have his or her name put on the child's birth certificate by executing an Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida form, and submitting it to the Clerk of Court along with the parents' marriage license. Finally, either parent can go to court, provide genetic samples for DNA testing, and then obtaining a court order based on the results. In some cases, it may also be possible to establish paternity through an Administrative Order of Paternity.

Establishing paternity is important for many reasons. Therefore, the state provides unmarried parents with a variety of ways to establish paternity. Fathers who want to pursue child custody or visitation or mothers who want to pursue child support may benefit from discussing their situation with a family law attorney who can help explain their options for establishing paternity.

Source: Florida Department of Revenue, "Paternity," accessed Jan. 3, 2018

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