Establishing paternity essentially refers to establishing the legal rights of a father in relation to a child. In Florida, if a mother is married at the time of her birth, then her husband is the legal father of the child. If a mother is unmarried at the time of birth, steps must be taken for paternity to be legally established. Establishing paternity has important implications for not just the father, but also the mother and child.
First, establishing paternity can be such a gift to a child. While it may seem like a technicality if you have already established a father-child bond, it will make a difference to the child. The father’s name can be put on the child’s birth certificate. What seems like an official detail can actually end up meaning a great deal. Additionally, establishing paternity will allow for certain governmental benefits to be extended to the child via the father. For example, if the father is disabled or a veteran, the child may be granted access to certain government benefits such as military allowances. The child will also have the opportunity to be added to the father’s health insurance policy. The child will also have the legal right to inherit from the father.
Establishing paternity can also have important implications for the child’s mother. With a legal father established, the mother has the ability to petition the court for child support from him. With rights to a child come responsibilities. As the father gains legal rights to a child, he also becomes legally responsible to financially provide for that child.
For the father, establishing paternity means that you will have legal rights to the child. You will have the legal right to seek visitation with the child. You will have the legal right to engage in decision-making on important matters pertaining to the child’s education and upbringing. Think about how important this is. While you and the mother may be on amicable terms at the moment, should that ever change, legally establishing yourself as the father means that you may exercise your legal rights to spend time with your child and be a part of his or her life.
There are a number of different ways paternity may be established in Florida. It may be established by voluntary acknowledgment. The father and mother can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form. Either parent has the right to revoke the acknowledgment for 60 days after it is signed. They may assert that signing was the result of something such as extreme force or fraud. Once 60 days has passed, the acknowledgment becomes legally binding.
In the event that, for some reason or another, a voluntary acknowledgment is not going to happen, paternity may be established by court order. The mother, purported father, child, or the Florida Department of Child Services, may seek such a court order. A genetic test will be ordered by the court.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
If you are looking to establish paternity, talk to the knowledgeable family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team. We can advise you on your rights and responsibilities relating to this important legal process. Contact us today.