When a child is born to married parents in Florida, the man is automatically considered to be the child’s biological father for legal purposes. But if a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established in order for the mother to seek child support and in order for the father to seek timesharing rights. Paternity can be established in two general ways: signing a Paternity Acknowledgment form or through a court order.
Acknowledgment of Paternity form
If the child’s parents agree on who the child’s biological father is, they can voluntarily sign a Paternity Acknowledgment form. This notarized document designates the man as the child’s biological father for legal purposes and allows the father to have his name placed on the child’s birth certificate. A Paternity Acknowledgement form can be filled out and signed at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. If the Paternity Acknowledgement form is not signed at the hospital, the child’s parents can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This form can be found at your area Florida Health Department or an area Florida Department of Children and Families office.
If the mother and alleged father disagree on who the child’s father is, they can file a civil action in circuit court. The court may order a DNA test. Note that if the alleged father is served, but does not attend the court hearing, they may be considered the child’s legal father by default.
Children benefit when paternity is established
Not only do parents benefit from establishing paternity, but the child also benefits from establishing paternity. Knowing their biological father gives children a sense of identity and family history. Establishing paternity also gives a child inheritance rights and it provides them with a family health history. Establishing paternity does not need to be difficult and can be very beneficial for parents and the child.