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Establishing Parental Rights Under Florida Law

establishing paternity

Establishing parental rights refers to the process of determining the legal father of a child. This process offers benefits to not only the child but also to both the mother and the father. Each state has different laws on how to establish paternity. If you’re interested in establishing paternity for your child it’s important to become familiar with the processes in your state

Why Establish Paternity?

Determining paternity for your child will help protect their rights. When parents establish paternity, a child will know for certain the identity of their father and hopefully have access to important information such as family medical history. Going through the process will also allow the child a chance to have support from both parents, like child support and medical support. Establishing paternity will also enable mothers and fathers to exercise their legal right to a child support order or a shared parenting schedule order.

Mother’s Considerations for Establishing Paternity

Mothers should consider establishing paternity for their child early on. Establishing paternity for a child will ensure that a child will have a chance to receive support from both parents. This support can help single mothers so that they don’t have to go it alone. In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to work with an attorney to establish paternity and petition for child support.

Father’s Considerations for Establishing Paternity

If a father wants to play an active role in their child’s life, they may want to strongly consider contacting an attorney who will work with them and guide them through the process of establishing paternity. Paternity is the starting point for judicial proceedings relating to child custody and visitation rights. It’s in a father’s best interest to establish paternity to protect their rights to spend time with and raise their child. A father will be unable to obtain any court orders with respect to their child’s custody without first establishing paternity.

Conversely, if a man believes he is not the biological father of a child he can use a paternity test to contest child support actions.

A Child’s Legal Father

Under Florida law, a child’s legal father is the spouse of their mother and the married parents will have every right and benefit under the law as legal parents. If a child is born to an unmarried woman then paternity must be established under the law for the child and parents to access their rights.

How Do I Establish Paternity for My Child in Florida?

Paternity must be established unless the parents of the child were married at the time of the child’s birth. If a child is born to unmarried parents in the state of Florida there are several ways parents may establish paternity.

Establishing Paternity via Marriage or Birth Certificate

There is a presumption that if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he is the father, but that in and of itself does not establish paternity and there is nothing at the hospital (or by marriage license) that can establish paternity.

Establishing Paternity with a Legal Order

If the above options are not available for your situation, paternity may be established with a legal order. If this is the case, you can consult with an attorney to have a judge court order a paternity test. All court order paternity tests will be determined using

If you have a child without a legal father, it may be in your and your child’s best interest to establish paternity. Establishing paternity early on can help you to avoid issues down the road.


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