Father and son walking off a basketball court.

Is a Birth Certificate Enough to Establish Paternity in Florida?

When it comes to the law, there are two kinds of fathers. First, there is the biological father. This is the man who actually fathered the child. Second, there is the legal father. The legal father is the man who possesses parenting rights and responsibilities regarding the child. Oftentimes, the biological father and the legal father are one of the same. Sometimes, this is not the case. Establishing your rights as the legal father of the child is necessary if you want legal parenting rights in regard to a child. These rights are critical and so it is important that you understand just exactly how paternity is established and is not established in Florida.

Does Signing a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Florida?

No, signing a birth certificate does not establish paternity in Florida. Signing a birth certificate only establishes a presumption that the man who signed is the father of the child. You will still need to go to the court to establish paternity. That is because, in Florida, there are two central ways of establishing paternity of a child. The first is that you are married and the child is born while you are married. The second way paternity is established is through the court system. Thus, if you are not married to the mother at the time the baby is born, merely signing the birth certificate will not be enough to establish your rights as the father.

In addition to signing the birth certificate, you must file an establishment of paternity case through filing a Petition to Establish Paternity with the court. In order to file this petition in a Florida court, you must have been a Florida resident for at least 6 months prior to filing. The petition essentially requests that the court determine paternity of the child. The petition can also go on to address issues relating to the establishment of paternity such as:

  • Child support
  • Visitation
  • Time sharing
  • Health insurance
  • Parenting plan

Both the mother and the father have the right to file a Petition to Establish Paternity. More specifically, any person who believes he may be the father of the child has the right to file the paternity action. Additionally, the Florida Department of Revenue has the ability to file a Petition to Establish Paternity for child support purposes if paternity has not been established and the guardian or mother of the child requests government assistance for the child, such as Medicaid benefits. Should there be a dispute regarding paternity, a DNA test will usually be ordered by the court.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

A paternity action is the first step in protecting a father’s legal rights to a child. If you have questions regarding your rights as a father or establishing your rights as a father, the trusted family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to help. Contact us today.