Under Florida law, when a married woman gives birth, the woman's husband is the presumed father. If the woman is not married at the time of giving birth, then paternity must be established. Paternity can be established either voluntarily or through a court order.
Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 742.10, both parents may voluntarily acknowledge paternity by signing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. This document must be notarized or witnessed by two individuals, and signed under penalty of perjury. After 60-days the acknowledgment becomes final and neither party can revoke it.
Paternity Established Through Court Order
In the absence of a duly executed voluntary acknowledgment, a father does not have "rights" to custody or visitation of the child until he has a court order that establishes him as the father. Being named on a birth certificate or having DNA testing is not enough to establish paternity in Florida.
Either the mother or the man who believes he is the father may go to court to establish paternity. The court will order a genetic test for the mother, child, and the putative father.
Once an action for establishing paternity is brought, the judge has the authority to rule on the paternity, as well as order child support, health insurance for the child, and orders regarding time-sharing of the child.
For more information on child custody and child support, read our articles:
Reasons to Establish Paternity
Parents may want to establish paternity for various reasons. A father must establish paternity to be granted shared parenting time and to have an equal voice in decisions concerning the child. A mother must establish paternity if she wishes to collect child support or other benefits from the father, for the child. Establishing paternity may also benefit the child in that he or she may then be entitled to inherit from the father's estate, or entitled to certain government benefits.
To learn more about your legal rights during the determination of paternity, child support, or modifications to child support orders contact us on the web, call (866) 767-4711, or email info@DraperLawOffice.com to schedule a consultation.