While there is almost never a need to establish maternity, the laws for establishing paternity differ from state to state. To ensure your rights as a father in Florida are protected, it is important that you know how to go about establishing paternity. This process of establishing paternity can be complex and have a major impact on the mother, the father, and the child involved.
Establishing paternity can provide the father with the following rights:
- The right to get a court order for parental responsibility and time-sharing plans
- The right to get a child support order
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity?
Because many fathers do not discover the paternity of a child until well after it is born, there is a long statute of limitations on filing for paternity actions. A father interested in establishing paternity has from the birth of the child up until the child reaches the age of majority (18 years old) to file a paternity action. While that statute of limitations is 18 years, fathers are encouraged to file for paternity as early as possible.
5 Ways to Establish Paternity for a Child
There are five ways to establish paternity in Florida:
- Marriage: When a child is born to married parents in Florida, the husband is, for all intents and purposes, the legal father of the child. Legal fathers do not need to take any action to establish paternity and they have the right to child support, parental responsibility, and time-sharing.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: This process does not require marriage or the filing of a civil lawsuit. If a mother and father both complete and sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, paternity is established.
- Court order: A paternity court order can be placed by a judge to establish paternity. This court order will detail parental responsibility, time-sharing plans, and child custody rights.
- Administrative order based on genetic testing: Paternity can be established by completing a DNA test and sending the samples to a genetic testing lab. Genetic testing will determine whether or not an individual is the biological father of the child. If it is determined that he is the natural father of the child, an administrative order can be issued to establish paternity.
- Legitimation: If a mother is unwed at the time of her child’s birth, paternity can be established if the mother and natural father of a child marry after the child is born. Following marriage, the couple will need to formally update the child’s birth record.
How Establishing Paternity Can Benefit a Child
Establishing paternity can have a positive impact on a child by providing them with additional rights and benefits.
Below are key benefits of establishing parentage for a child:
- Access to their family medical history
- The right to financial and medical support from either parent
- The right to visitation or custody with their father
- Their father’s name is included on the birth certificate
- The right to health or life insurance
- The right to Social Security or Veterans Benefits
Call The Virga Law Firm, P.A.
Need assistance with establishing paternity? At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., our paternity lawyers are experienced in these matters. Whether you are filing for paternity or you are on the receiving end of an involuntary paternity suit, we can fight to protect your rights and best interests.
Searching for a paternity attorney? Call (800) 822-5170 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.