Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer

Establishing Paternity Under Florida Law

It may come as no surprise that the birth rate of children born to unmarried parents has skyrocketed in recent years. This trend has resulted in more complicated parent-child relationships and the need to legally establish paternity in accordance with Florida law. Paternity laws allow unmarried parents to formally establish a parental relationship between father and child, as well as establish all of the rights and responsibilities that result from the parent-child relationship.

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgments

If an unmarried man is certain that he is the biological father of a child, then he and the child’s mother can sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgment. After signing the document, the parents must submit it to the Florida State Office of Vital Statistics. This sworn legal document establishes the man as the legal father of the child. Either party can rescind, or negate the effect of, the paternity acknowledgment within 60 days of the date on which they signed the agreement. However, if one party wants to rescind the acknowledgment more than 60 days after the date on which the agreement was signed, then he or she is likely to have to seek a court order in order to do so.

Paternity Establishment by Court Order

If the parties cannot cooperate to sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, or if the man is not sure if he is the father of the child, then either party can start a case in the appropriate Florida domestic relations court to establish paternity for the child. In this situation, Florida law allows the judge to order the parties and the child to undergo DNA testing in order to prove whether the man is the biological father of the child. Once DNA testing proves that a man is the father and paternity is legally established, the father can ask for custody and visitation rights, add his name to the child’s birth certificate, and ask that the child’s last name be changed to his last name. The mother also can ask the father to pay child support for the child.

Florida’s Putative Father Registry

If the parties cannot cooperate to sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, and the man is not ready to file for paternity establishment in court, but still wants to reserve his rights as a father, there is another step that he can take. By registering with the Putative Father Registry, the man is acknowledging the possibility that he is the father of the child. Completing the Claim of Paternity form ensures that if anyone ever seeks to adopt the child or terminate the man’s parental rights, he will have to receive the proper legal notice of those proceedings. Receiving this type of notice then would give the man the right to object to the termination of his rights and/or seek to establish legal paternity for the child.

At the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we know Florida paternity law, as well as how crucial a paternity order can be for the best interest of a child, in terms of the parent-child relationship, emotional support, and financial support. We have represented many clients in Florida paternity, and we know what it takes to get paternity established. Please contact your Florida paternity lawyer by calling 954-800-2362, or fill out the online form located here.