18 Sep ESTABLISHING PATERNITY OF YOUR CHILD
Being the biological father of a child is much different than being the legal father of a child. Establishing a legal father is what we mean when we talk about establishing paternity. Without a legal father, neither parent would be able to obtain a child support order, and neither parent would be able to ask the court for an order giving them custody of their child or parenting time with their child.
There are several ways to establish paternity. The first is the easiest—if the parents are married when the child is born, the legal father is automatically the mother’s husband, and no further action will have to be taken. If the parents are unmarried at the time the child is born but later get married, they can establish paternity when they apply for their marriage license. If the parents are unmarried at the time the child is born, they can also voluntarily acknowledge who the legal father is, and sign a document making the father legal.
Things get a little bit tricky when the parents are unmarried and they do not voluntarily acknowledge the legal father. This is where the Court has to get involved, so the Judge can enter an order declaring someone as the legal father. This process involves DNA testing to prove that the person being made the legal father is also the biological father. This may be the only option available to you if you are either a mother unsure of who the biological father of your child is, or a man who thinks he might be the biological father but is not sure.
Most states believe that every child has a right to have a father, and the State of Florida is no exception. Not only does the state have an interest in making sure every child has a legal father, parents have an interest in this too. For example, if you are a mother in need of child support, there will be no one to collect child support from if your child does not have a legal father. On the flip side, if you are a father and you want to spend time with your child, but the mother will not agree to that, the Court will not be able to issue an order granting you any type of custody or parenting time rights unless you are the legal father.
Time is of the essence whether you are a mother seeking child support or a father seeking custodial rights. Nothing happens overnight in the Court system, so the sooner you get started the sooner you will get the results you are looking for.
Questions about establishing paternity? I have over a decade of experience handling these issues. Call my office today to schedule your free consultation.