When a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes
the woman’s husband is the child’s biological and legal father.
But when a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established
before the family court can issue orders for
custody, and visitation.
You see, until
paternity is established, a father has zero rights and responsibilities toward his
child. This means he is not obligated to pay child support, and he cannot
seek custody or visitation until paternity is established. He has no say
in the child’s upbringing.
What is Paternity?
Paternity refers to establishing a child’s legal father. Once paternity
is established, the mother can ask for child support, and the father can
seek custody or visitation. Some of the benefits of establishing paternity
in Florida, include:
- The child is entitled to financial support from both parents
- The child is entitled to health insurance from both parents
- The child can have access to their family medical history
- The child gains the rights to an inheritance, Social Security benefits,
veteran’s benefits, and military allowances
- The child can have peace of mind knowing the identity of his or her father
How Paternity is Established in Florida
Generally, paternity is established one of two ways in Florida: 1) paternity
is voluntarily established by the mother and father at the hospital after
the child’s birth by signing a
Paternity Acknowledgement form before a notary public, who is provided by the hospital, or 2) genetic
testing (DNA testing) through a legal order.
When In Doubt About Paternity
Whether you are a mother or the alleged father, if you have any doubt about
paternity, you should not sign the
Paternity Acknowledgement form. Instead, it’s better to request a paternity test to confirm
the father-child genetic relationship. If the mother is still pregnant,
this test cannot be performed until after the child’s birth.
If you are a woman who is pregnant or has given birth to a child and you
have concerns about the child’s biological father being physically
abusive toward your child, you should consult with our firm before seeking
a paternity test. Once paternity is established, a legal father has the
right to seek custody and visitation of his child. So, this is something
to discuss with your lawyer when deciding on the best course of action.
For all of your paternity and
family law needs in Orlando,
contact R. Gregory Colvin, LLC.