What You Need to Know About Establishing Paternity in Florida

An unmarried father needs to establish paternity to have legal rights in child custody decisions. Here is everything you need to know about establishing paternity in Florida.

Why do I need to establish paternity in Florida?

To have a legal right to custody in Florida, you must establish paternity. Florida may question paternity with unmarried parents.

Five Ways to Establish Paternity in Florida

1. Marriage

If a husband is married to the mother before the child is born, the court assumes the husband is the father and does not need to establish paternity. The father has full rights and responsibility for the child.

2. Acknowledgement of Paternity

After the child is born, an unmarried couple can sign a legal document stating their mutual agreement and confirmation of the father’s identity. Parents can complete the document at the hospital or at a later time to legally bestow the father’s legal rights and obligations of parenthood. If the mother is married at birth, this approach will not work.

Related: Florida Child Custody FAQs

3. Court Order

Parties may need to obtain a court order from a judge to establish paternity in contested cases officially. The judge will hear evidence about the “claimed father” before establishing paternity. The judge may decide to require genetic testing to establish the child’s paternity.

4. Order based on DNA Test

A genetic test involves swabbing the inside of the alleged father’s and the child’s mouths and submitting the samples to a genetic testing facility to ascertain whether the putative father is the child’s biological father. If the test shows he is the child’s biological father, Florida can issue an administrative order to formally establish paternity.

Related: Florida Child Support Laws

5. Legitimation

When an unmarried couple has a child and marries later, Florida law presumes the husband is the legal father. The parents must send papers to the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, including a marriage certificate, an acceptance of paternity, and an “Affirmation of Common Child Born in Florida.” Doing so confirms the father’s name documented on the child’s birth certificate.

FAQs on Establishing Paternity in Florida

How long does a father have to establish paternity?

In Florida, a father has up until four years after the child reaches the age of majority to establish paternity. In Florida, the age of majority is 18, so the father has until the child is 22 to establish paternity.

Does a birth certificate establish paternity in Florida?

A birth certificate does not legally establish paternity in Florida. If a couple is married when the child is born, the law assumes that the husband is the father. However, if the parents are unmarried, the father has to establish paternity in one of the ways mentioned above.

What legal rights does a father gain after establishing paternity?

  • Get a child support order
  • Get a court order for shared time with the child

What rights and benefits does a child gain when a father establishes paternity?

  • Information on family medical history
  • The child will know the identity of their father
  • The father’s name is on the birth certificate
  • Health or life insurance from either parent, if available
  • Support from both parents, like child support and medical support
  • Get Social Security or veteran’s benefits, military allowances, and inheritances

Does the father have to pay child support after establishing paternity?

Once a father establishes paternity, both parents have the right to request a child support order. The court will determine if the parent needs to pay for child support.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Establishing Paternity Florida, get your free consultation with one of our Child Custody Attorneys in Florida today!