Establishing Paternity in Florida

Children are all born with two biological parents. A child is entitled to know his or her biological father. With more and more children born out of wedlock, the issue of establishing paternity comes up quite often. Paternity comes with both legal rights and responsibilities. Both parents are expected to spend time with their child and provide the essentials that the child needs. In some cases, the biological father has to be established in a court of law. Either parent may elect to establish paternity, and there are several ways it may be accomplished.

Paternity by Marriage

When a child is born to a married couple, the law presumes that the husband is the father. The husband’s name is put on the birth certificate and he is considered the legal father of the child. This means that it is possible that the legal father is not the biological father. Parents may also marry after a child is born. If that occurs, paternity is established through legitimization. Things can become much more complicated if the parents never get married. In that case, paternity can be established through acknowledgement or through DNA testing.

Paternity by Acknowledgment

Some cases of paternity involve no dispute or disagreement between the parents. In that case, the father may establish paternity by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Both parties sign the legal document and state under oath that the man is the biological father of the child. After a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is signed, it will become final and binding in 60 days. After this point, paternity is legally established. It is important that the document be signed without pressure or threats because otherwise it may not be deemed legally binding.

DNA Testing to Establish Paternity

In cases in which the father denies responsibility for the child, the mother may request that genetic testing be completed, or vice versa. The Florida Department of Revenue may be able to assist by requiring the father submit to DNA testing. The child and both parents will have DNA samples collected through the use of a cheek swab. The samples are evaluated by an independent laboratory. If the DNA proves paternity, the Department of Revenue may issue an order to place the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

A paternity case can be brought for the purpose of issuing child support orders.  Once paternity is legally established, the court will issue an order that requires the father to pay child support. The court can also order visitation so that the father can spend time with his biological child. DNA testing is the most reliable method of establishing paternity and the easiest way to prove fatherhood.

If you are a father seeking to gain visitation with his child or a mother who wants a biological father to pay child support, the solution is to seek help from an experienced family law attorney in Brevard County. Contact Henderson Legal Group to schedule a private consultation to discuss options for establishing paternity in Florida.


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