In the State of Florida, the laws regarding paternity of a child have been described by some as archaic and difficult to overcome, especially when applied to unmarried fathers. Florida values the institution of marriage and therefore, provides a great deal of benefits for those parties involved in a marriage as well as the children of a married couple. Therefore, if you are an unmarried father or recently married father it is critical to determine your legal standing in relation to your biological child under Florida Law.
When the mother and father of a child are unmarried at the time of conception or birth of the child, paternity is not automatically determined. Even further, under Florida Statute 63.032 describes an unmarried biological father as, “the child’s biological father who is not married to the child’s mother at the time of conception or birth of the child and who… has not been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the legal father of the child or has not executed an affidavit.” As an unmarried biological father, you essentially have no legal rights to your child and all deference of parentage is given to the mother of the child including, legal and physical custody.
To establish your paternal rights to your child as an unmarried man, you may seek court adjudication; sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity with the mother of the child and file it with the clerk of court; or subsequently marry the mother of the child. Under Florida Statute 742.10, “If the mother of any child born out of wedlock and the reputed father shall at any time after its birth intermarry, the child shall in all respects be deemed and held to be the child of the husband and wife, as though born within wedlock.” Further, any pending action with the court regarding the determination of paternity will be deemed void, dismissed, and sealed. After the marriage, the father will have equal rights to the child as the biological mother. No further paternity action will need to be filed to establish these rights. The child will be deemed legitimate and the father will be automatically determined as legal father. When a father marries the mother of their child, no DNA test or any other evidence is necessary. However, in some cases, the issue regarding the alleged father may be called into question and evidence of a DNA test, signature on the birth certificate, or the father being held out as the father of the child may satisfy the reputed requirement. A.S. v. S.F., 4 So. 3d 774 (Fla. 5th D.C.A. 2009); HRS v. C.M.N., 661 So. 2d 22 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1994). However, these instances are uncommon and should be discussed further with an Orlando Child Custody Attorney.
With the many laws regarding paternity in Florida, it is common to question the legal rights of an unmarried father. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney to determine your legal rights and what steps you may need to take in order to establish a legal relationship between you and your child.
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