In Florida, there are two ways to determine a child’s legal father – (i) by virtue of the fact the mother is married at the time of delivery, or; (ii) by establishing legal paternity. The
former, known as the “putative father” statute, imparts immediate paternity on a man if he is legally married at the time his wife gives birth. Of course, situations do arise where the husband is not actually the father of the child, and the putative father status may be rebutted upon a showing of evidence that another individual is actually the child’s father.
Far more common, however, is the situation involving unmarried parents, requiring the legal establishment of paternity. If you are in this situation and would like to establish paternity to protect your child’s rights, we encourage you to talk to a family attorney in Sarasota right away.
How Is Paternity Established?
In the latter example above involving two unwed parents, paternity is established either voluntarily or through a civil process. A father who wishes to voluntarily establish paternity may do so by filling out paperwork at the hospital or at any time thereafter and filing that paperwork with the Office of Vital Statistics. The forms, known as Acknowledgement of Paternity, must be notarized and witnessed by two other individuals.
If a presumed father is denying paternity, the mother may initiate a legal process to allow a judge to issue a court order. In this scenario, the judge will order genetic testing of the alleged father to see if he is a match to the child. If a match is discovered, the court order will be forwarded to the Office of Vital Statistics for an official record of the child’s father.
Benefits to Establishing Paternity
There are several benefits to establishing paternity. Most notably, paternity is required before a child can receive financial support. Paternity will also entitle your child to an inheritance, death benefits or veteran’s benefits. A father with established paternity also benefits by having access to the child’s health records, having rights to custody or visitation and various other important privileges.
Contact a Family Attorney in Sarasota Today
For assistance with the paternity process in Florida, please contact a reputable Sarasota law firm today. For an appointment, call Liz Alpert at Alpert Law, P.A. at 941.954.1700.