How can I establish paternity in Florida?

On behalf of Furr & Cohen, P.A. posted in Unmarried Couples on Friday, August 22, 2014.

When some people hear about father’s rights, they just sometimes assume that these rights are easy to get. That, however, isn’t true. There are several factors that have to be considered when a person wants to get father’s rights. While some of these are common sense, others might surprise our readers in Florida.

How can I prove I’m the father?

In Florida, paternity can be established in several ways. If you and the child’s mother were married when the baby was born, you are the child’s legal father in Florida. If you and the child’s mother weren’t married at the time the baby was born, you can still be considered the legal father if you signed the Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital. You can also sign this form later. If you and the child’s mother get married after the baby is born, you can get the birth certificate updated by going through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.

If you didn’t sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity and you and the child’s mother were an unmarried couple when the baby was born, you can go through DNA testing to establish paternity, which takes approximately three weeks to complete after the last sample is taken. The court would then order paternity in a court if paternity is established by the tests.

Why should I care about paternity?

Establishing paternity for a child gives you the right to serve as the child’s legal father. This can mean having the ability to try to get custody or visitation rights, as well as having a say in legal decisions made regarding the child. Having paternity established can also help the child because your name would be on your child’s birth certificate. If something happens to you, the child could potentially receive benefits from Social Security or other agencies.

Establishing paternity isn’t necessarily complicated, but it is important for anyone who needs to do this to understand his rights. Knowing your rights can help you to ensure that they are respected as you go through the process of seeking your rights as a father.

Source: Florida Department of Revenue, “Paternity is Fatherhood” Aug. 20, 2014