A Timeline for Establishing Paternity

When a married man and woman have a child, it is presumed that the man is the father of the child. Unless otherwise stated by the mother or both parents, the husband is legally the father of the newborn. This is not the same when the couple is not married. It is important that a father who is not married seeks legal paternityin the event of a breakup or other circumstances that may arise in the future.

Establishing paternity after the birth of a child is important in any case, but especially when a mother is denying the man who believes he is the father.

First Steps

When a mother is certain of the paternity of the father, both parties may voluntarily sign a form called a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. This may be called something different depending on the state in which the child is born, but the intents of the form are the same: to legally establish the man as the father.

Once this form is completed and signed, the man is included on the birth certificate. If the mother or father do not voluntarily fill out this form, paternity can be legally established later. An attorney is typically necessary to complete this process.

Paternity Lawsuits

When a mother refuses to voluntarily name a man as the father of her child, the man may find it necessary to file a paternity lawsuit. This may also occur when the woman believes a man to be the father and he denies that fact. In some cases, the state may file a paternity lawsuit when the mother is receiving assistance. The state does this in an attempt to collect monies from the legal father.

When the court determines that a man is the father of a child, that man will be legally required to pay child support and other costs associated with the case. Child support is ordered in accordance with the state’s current guidelines.


Parents may choose to settle before a judge files an order. This does not happen often, but it does occur. In many cases, parents settle on a lump-sum payment and the father relinquishes rights to his child. Many times these agreements are found to be unfair or unconstitutional in courts.

When paternity has been established, the child gains legal rights. These include the right to health insurance, social security benefits and inheritance rights. The child also gains the rights to important familial medical history. Most importantly, the child may have access to a relationship with their father that may not have been initiated otherwise.

If you need assistance in establishing paternity in Orlando, reach out to our team of experienced family law attorneys. We will review your case for free and advise you of your legal options. Whether you are a man or a woman seeking a legal establishment of paternity, we are here for you. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.