What Floridians Need to Know About Establishing Paternity

There are quite a few situations when it is necessary to establish paternity in order to help protect your rights and allow you to take care of your responsibilities. Whether you are the mother or the father, establishing paternity is often a necessary first step before pursuing things like custody, child support, and more. Understanding how paternity laws in Florida work will help ensure you can make the right decisions in your situation.

Presumed or Voluntary Paternity

In the state of Florida, any child that is born to a married couple is presumed to be the child of the husband. There is no need for either party to take any action to establish legal paternity, and even if the couple gets divorced, the courts will assume that the husband is the father of all children of that marriage. If there is doubt that this is the case, it will be necessary to prove to the courts that the husband is not the biological father of the children.

Even if a couple is not married, it is possible to establish paternity at or near the time of the child’s birth without needing to go to court. This is done by simply filling out a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form and having both parents sign it. Once signed and filed, it becomes finalized after 60-days. The only way that this can be revoked or reversed is if either party is able to show that there was fraud involved, or extreme force was used to make one of the persons sign the form.

Who Can Petition the Courts to Establish Paternity?

In some cases, there is dispute over who is the father. Both the mother and the man in question can benefit from establishing paternity, and it is very important to take action as soon as possible. In Florida, a paternity case can be started by the mother, a man who believes he is the father (known as the “alleged father”), the child (through a legal representative), or the Florida Department of Child Support Services.

How Paternity is Established

Once one of the above-mentioned parties petitions the courts to establish paternity, a court date will be set up to go over all the facts surrounding the case. While the courts can listen to a variety of different arguments, it will almost always come down to having a DNA test performed to confirm or rule out the alleged father as the biological father. If either the mother (on behalf of the child) or the father refuses to take this test, a court order will be put in place to force the issue.

Why Establish Paternity

There are many reasons why establishing paternity is important for the mother, the father, and the children. Once paternity is established, a child support order can be put in place. In most cases, the father will also then be able to demand a relationship and parenting time with the children. Paternity is also required for placing a child on health insurance coverage, making medical decisions for the child, and more. If you are looking to establish paternity of your child, we are here to help. Contact Annette Sanchez Law to go over your situation and get your case started right away.

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