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FL Paternity Laws: How to Establish Paternity in Florida

how to establish paternity in florida

In the legal sense, paternity is the official establishment of the father of a child, which includes all the legal rights and responsibilities intrinsic to fatherhood. With the possible exception of rare and unusual surrogacy situations, there is almost never a need to establish maternity or motherhood of a child since it is usually quite clear who the mother is due to the nature of birth.

Paternity can be much more complex, since the biological father is not inherently obvious. There are a wealth of reasons that one would need to establish paternity, the results of which can have a major impact on the child, the mother, and the father as well.

An establishment of paternity can help provide the child with family medical history, health and life insurance, financial support, and a right to inheritances and other benefits like such as military or social security. For the mother and father, an establishment of paternity gives each the right to get child support, get visitation or custody rights, and have a say in legal decisions about the child.

Our experienced paternity attorney discusses the five ways how to establish paternity in Florida.

Legally Establishing Paternity in Florida

1) Paternity by marriage

If a man is married to the mother when a child is born, he is, for all intents and purposes, legally considered the father of the child. No further action need be taken to officially establish paternity if the couple is married.

2) Acknowledgement of paternity

An unmarried couple can jointly sign a legal document after the child is born that states they both acknowledge that the male signatory is the father of the child. This can be completed in the hospital following the birth, or at a later date, and officially bestows the legal rights and responsibilities of fatherhood upon the male party. This method cannot be used if the mother is married at the time of birth.

3) Court ordered paternity test

In cases where the fatherhood of the child is disputed, it may be necessary to get a court-ordered paternity test from a judge that legally establishes the father of the child. The judge will hear evidence regarding the “alleged father,” and will then decide whether or not to establish paternity. He or she may choose to require genetic testing to prove the parentage of the child.

4) Administrative order based on genetic testing

Also known as a DNA test, the genetic test entails swabbing the inside of the mouths of the alleged father and the child, and sending the samples to a genetic testing lab to determine whether the alleged father is actually the biological father of the child. If the test determines that he is in fact the natural father of the child, an administrative order can be issued to legally establish paternity.

5) Legitimation of Marriage

When an unmarried couple has a child, and later gets married, Florida law presumes the husband to be the legal father once the marriage is official. However, in order to be added to the child’s birth certificate as the father, the parents must send documentation to the Florida Office of Vital Statistics including a marriage certificate, an acknowledgement of paternity, and an “Affirmation of Common Child Born in Florida.”


Work with a Paternity Lawyer for Help Establishing Paternity in Florida

Establishing paternity and enforcing child support can be a complex and sensitive situation. No matter the circumstances, it is important that you utilize the counsel and guidance of an experienced family law attorney like Vanessa Vasquez de Lara. If you are involved in a paternity dispute, or you need to establish or refute a paternity claim, please contact us today.

Author Bio

Vanessa Vasquez de Lara is the founder and owner of Vasquez de Lara Law Group, a Miami family law firm. With over 20 years of experience in family law, she has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and other family law cases.

Vanessa received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002 and is a member of the Florida Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named to the 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Stars and the 2016-2023 Super Lawyers list.

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