Issues To Consider In Establishing Paternity
Unmarried couples who have children together often face difficult issues and challenging questions when it comes to establishing paternity. If you are not in an established relationship, there may be concerns over maintaining continued contact with one another, or the amount of involvement the father will have in both the child’s and the mother’s life. While you may have valid reasons to leave the father’s name off the birth certificate or to not establish paternity soon after the child is born, it could have a lasting impact on the child’s life.
Rights And Obligations Through Paternity
Listing a father’s name on a birth certificate or having paternity established by the court provides the father with certain rights and obligations. Under Section 742.031 of the Florida Statutes, these include:
- The right to visitation and time sharing arrangements, which may include weeknights, weekends, and extended time over vacations or holidays;
- Parental responsibility in making decisions regarding the education, religious upbringing, and general care of the child;
- Financial responsibility in terms of providing health insurance and making child support payments.
In addition to the father’s rights, the child in question also has certain legal rights when paternity is established. These include the right to inherit from the father’s estate in the event of their passing, the right to be listed on medical and life insurance policies, and to claim social security or veteran’s disability benefits. Depending on the situation, the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services advises that children often benefit emotionally, socially, and economically from having their father take an active role in their lives. There are also health benefits involved, as the father’s medical history could serve to alert doctors to any hereditary conditions.
How To Establish Paternity
The Florida Department of Revenue advises that there are three ways of establishing paternity:
- In the hospital: If the parents are unmarried when the child is born, paternity can be established voluntarily by listing the father’s name on the birth certificate.
- By legitimization of acknowledgement: If not listed on the birth certificate, the father can establish paternity by voluntary acknowledgement. If the couple marries after the child is born, they can establish paternity when applying for a marriage license.
- By court order: Genetic testing can be used to establish paternity, either with or without the father’s consent.
A paternity suit may be filed as a civil action, requesting a judge to make an order in the case. DNA testing, which involves collecting a cheek swab from the mother, the child, and the proposed father, can generally be completed within 30 minutes, have a high rate of reliability, with results which can be obtained within a matter of weeks.
How Our Florida Paternity Attorney Can Help
Paternity cases involve complex emotional and legal issues. At a time like this, you need an experienced attorney by your side to act as a strong legal advocate. To discuss the options available in your situation, call or contact the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC to request a free consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office today.