Establishing Paternity in Florida | Petition to Establish Paternity Florida

Married and unwed parents often search for information on how to establish paternity in Florida. In Florida, there are several avenues a father or a mother of a minor child may take in order to establish paternity. It is important to know that establishing paternity in Florida does not confer parental rights on a father. A father must obtain a court order from the circuit court that contains a parenting plan establishing his timesharing rights with the minor child. This may be done by filing a Petition to Establish Paternity Florida. Jonathan Jacobs, Orlando Family Law Attorney, Lake County Family Lawyer can help win your paternity case. Below are five ways to establish paternity in Florida:

  1. According to Florida law (statutes and case law), if a mother and father are legally married to each another (this is important because Florida does not recognize unlawful marriages from other states) when the child is born, the issue of paternity is inherently established. The husband will be considered to be the legal and biological father of the child under Florida law even if factually untrue.
  • A more formal method by which an unwed parent may go about establishing paternity in Florida is through signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. As you may be aware, the Acknowledgement of Paternity form is commonly signed site-on-scene at the hospital shortly after the birth of the child. The form is often notarized for authentication purposes, as are many legal documents in family law. The form explains the consequences of a husband or unwed father’s signature. The unwed father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate. By signing, the would-be father is agreeing he is the child’s biological father and will be responsible for the child in a legal sense, including financially if the Department of Revenue gets involved. Either parent, or both, will have the opportunity to abrogate their signature and its effect if done within 60 days. A genetic test within the sixty day window may be appropriate.
  • The third method of proving paternity is through an administrative order based on genetic testing. Genetic testing is done through DNA testing. It involves a comparison of the DNA of the mother, the alleged father, and the child. Also, if a father filed a Petition to Establish Paternity Florida, he may request scientific DNA testing through a motion to be brought before the court.
  • The fourth method of establishing paternity in Florida is through obtaining a court-ordered paternity order from a judge which establishes a parenting plan specifying the father’s timesharing and child custody rights.
  • Finally, there is the method of legitimation. Legitimation occurs when the mother and natural father get married to one another after the child is born, and then formally update the child’s birth record with the proper bureau (Vital Statistics for example). Recall the pejorative term “illegitimate child.” Through the marriage of his/her parents, a child becomes “legitimated.”
Petition to Establish Paternity Orlando
Petition to Establish Paternity Orlando

Florida Statute 744.301: Mother is the Natural Guardian of the Child

Florida Statute 744.301 provides that “The mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to primary residential care and custody of the child unless the court enters an order stating otherwise.” According to Florida law, a minor child does not have a legal father if the mother is not married when the child is born. A father must file a Petition to Establish Paternity Florida in order to establish Paternity have timesharing and other legal rights with/over the child.

Married couples should know that dissolution of marriage is not automatically granted upon a spouse’s petition. There is a process that must be followed to satisfy the court’s requirements. In a circumstance where a husband knows he is not the natural father of a child, but is still married to the mother at the time of birth, complications may arise. Alternatively, if a married woman chooses to not allow husband’s name on the birth certificate, the husband may need to file for divorce in court and establish his rights as a father through the court. Always research your legal rights, and when in doubt, contact the Jacobs Law Firm.

Does Signing A Birth Certificate Establish Paternity In Florida? 

Recall that when a father signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, a father’s name is written into the child’s Birth Certificate. Clients often tell us, “Of course he is the dad, his name is on the Birth Certificate.” Signing the form and having father’s name written into the Birth Certificate is just one step in the process of establishing paternity in Florida. Being on the Birth Certificate may subject an unwed father to making child support payments, but it does not grant him any parental rights to timesharing with the child or decision-making authority over the child. Those rights are conferred by the court upon the filing of a Petition for Paternity Florida. There is a measure of protection for a father whose name is on the form. This entitles a father to due process rights. A father must receive notice in this circumstance if the child is put up for adoption. In most cases when a father signs the form, he is estopped from contesting that he is the natural father of the child. There are obvious burdens and benefits in making this decision.

Petition to Establish Paternity Florida

Generally, it is the father that files a Petition to Establish Paternity Florida. Typically, mothers will file an action through/with the Department of Revenue for child support. There is less incentive for a mother to file a paternity action. In doing so, a mother would file a lawsuit that benefits the child’s father. Filing the paternity action has more benefits for the father who wishes to reduce his child support obligation, establish timesharing with his child, and gain parental rights (decision-making authority) over the child. Filing a paternity action can help in preventing the mother from relocating with the minor child.

Call Jonathan Jacobs, Orlando Family Law Attorney, Lake County Family Lawyer today for help with your paternity case.

Attorney Jonathan Jacobs