In Florida, many men find it difficult to establish their parental rights because there is a distinction between a “biological father” and a “legal father.” Typically, a biological father is the man who genetically contributed to a child’s birth. This doesn’t, however, mean that a biological father has any legal rights to his child. Under Florida law, a child’s legal father is established through marriage, adoption, or a court order.
The Court Order
In most circumstances, a father has both biological and legal rights to a child through marriage. Establishing paternity only becomes complicated when a child is born out of wedlock. In this circumstance, a biological father must request a court order stating that he is also the legal father.
Typically, biological parents are able to settle paternity issues without depending on the court for legal intervention. By filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, both parents state under oath that the biological father is also the legal father. After a 60-day waiting period, this form gives a biological father all the legal rights and responsibilities associated with parenthood.
However, if a mother refuses to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, then a biological father must file a paternity action to establish his legal parental rights. A judge may issue a court order so long as the evidence and genetic tests support the biological father’s claim.
It’s important to hire a skilled lawyer if you plan to file a paternity action. Because legal paternity is not determined by a blood relationship, you may lose all parental rights to your child if the mother marries someone else.
Biological Father vs. Legal Father
Sometimes, the biological father and the legal father are two separate people. For example, if a baby is the result of an affair, then the mother may be married to the legal father while dating the biological father. Or, if a mother marries a different man after becoming pregnant, the new husband is legally the child’s father.
As you can imagine, these scenarios make child custody determinations very difficult during divorce proceedings.
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Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. if you’re ready to fight for your legal parental rights. Our highly trained attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience and can guide you through this complicated legal process.
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