When a child is born to parents who are married, the state automatically assumes that the man is the child’s biological father. When a child is born to unwed parents, the man or woman must file a paternity action to establish the child’s legal father.
If you do not establish paternity, you may lose certain rights like time-sharing or child support. If you live in Florida and need to establish paternity, these are some of the salient points you should know.
How to establish paternity
Several decades ago, it was expected that a man and woman would marry before having a child. In the twenty-first century, though, many people decide to have a child without getting married.
An unmarried couple must take specific steps to establish the child’s paternity:
- If you and the child’s other parent agree on the child’s paternity, the two of you can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form.
- If one parent has not agreed on paternity, then the other can file a civil petition to establish paternity. The court may order DNA testing to determine the child’s biological father. If the alleged father does not attend the mandatory court hearing, the judge can automatically name him the child’s legal father.
Once the court establishes paternity, each parent can exercise certain rights. The parent who has majority time-sharing can request child support. The child’s legal father can petition for time-sharing rights.
Establishing paternity is not always easy, but it is worth it
After reading about this complex process, you may feel that you do not want to determine paternity. However, if you want to access your full parental rights, then establishing paternity may prove critical. Whether your child’s other parent voluntarily signs an acknowledgment or you must file a civil action, it will be worth the bureaucracy and red tape to enforce you and your child’s rights.