It is not entirely uncommon for a child not to have a legal father. However, there are ways to declare paternity after a child is born if doing so is desired. There are many reasons one might want to establish paternity. It could be a means of securing a child support order, or for the father, it could be a way of having decision-making rights for the child. Having a legal father also gives the child the power to collect inheritance or social security on behalf of the father without jumping through legal hoops.
So, how does one establish paternity in the eyes of the law? Our Miami family law attorneys are sharing some insight.
Legal Father vs. Biological Father
Before diving into the process for establishing paternity in Florida, it is important to understand the legal definition of a father. Even a biological father may not be considered a child’s legal parent under paternity law. When a woman is married and gives birth to a child, her husband will be the child’s legal parent — even if this is not always the case. When a man believes himself to be the biological father of a child but has not been deemed the legal father but because he is not listed on the child’s birth certificate, he will need to prove this to be true by establishing paternity.
The Process for Determining Paternity
Establishing paternity can be done either voluntarily or involuntarily. For instance, if the mother is unmarried when the child is born but both parents are confident in who the father is, they can declare who the child’s father is by signing a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. It is important to note that this acknowledgment cannot be revoked by either parent after 60 days have passed.
If the couple disagrees over who is the biological father, either the man or the woman can list the courts to establish paternity. This action can also be brought by a legal representative of the child or the Florida Department of Child Support Services. Whoever seeks to establish paternity will need to present his or her case to the circuit family court judge, who will then order a genetic test for the mother, the alleged father, and the child. If the case is started before the child’s birth, the genetic test will not be completed until he or she is born. Once paternity is determined, the judge will make decisions regarding custody, child support, health insurance, decision-making powers, and even who pays the court costs and attorney’s fees.
The process for establishing paternity in Florida is best navigated with the help of a seasoned professional. If you have a paternity case, our Miami family law attorneys are here to help. Give our office a call today to schedule a free consultation today and get the answers you need.