Families in Lakeland come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a child is born to unmarried parents who later break up. When this happens, if the child’s mother wants to pursue child support or if the child’s father wants to pursue visitation or custody rights, paternity needs to be established. Two ways unmarried parents can establish paternity in Florida are through voluntary acknowledgement or a court order.
Paternity can be established voluntarily at the time of the child’s birth at the hospital where the child is born. The child’s parents can fill out and sign a Paternity Acknowledgment form made available in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. This must be done before a notary provided by the hospital. Once the form is complete, the father becomes the child’s parents for legal purposes. It is important to note that this is not an option if the child’s mother is married to someone else when the child is born.
An Acknowledgment of Paternity can also voluntarily be filled out and signed after the child’s birth at any time until the child becomes a legal adult. This must be done before two witnesses or a notary public. You can find this form at your local Florida Health Department. As with the Paternity Acknowledgement, an Acknowledgement of Paternity is not an option if the child’s mother is married to someone else when the child is born.
If there is a dispute as to whether the alleged father is the child’s biological parent, either party can move the court for a hearing to determine paternity. The court will generally order a genetic test to determine paternity. It is important that the alleged father attend the paternity hearing. If he misses it, he will become the child’s legal father by default.
Learn more about paternity in Florida
Ultimately this post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those who want to learn more about paternity in Florida are encouraged to explore our firm’s website for further information.