The question of paternity comes up in many family law cases. In Florida, when the parents of a child are married, generally nothing needs to be done to prove paternity. However, when the parents are not married, paternity can be established in three ways: a paternity acknowledgment form signed by both parents, an administrative paternity order, or a judicial paternity order.
Many fathers and mothers sign paternity acknowledgment forms at the hospital when the child is born, but you can also sign this form at a later date. Paternity acknowledgment means that both parents agree that the father has parental rights and responsibilities.
An administrative paternity order is based on the results of a genetic test that proves the father’s paternity. A genetic test can be provided at no cost to the parents, and neither party is required to go to court to have an administrative paternity order issued. An administrative paternity order, which can take three or more months to issue, is as valid as a parental acknowledgment form or a judicial paternity order
A judicial paternity order is the only way of establishing paternity that requires the mother and the man named as the father to make a court appearance. Depending on the court schedule, a judicial paternity order can take six or more months to issue. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their cases, and a genetic test may be ordered by the court.
The legal identification of a child’s father can lead to much-needed benefits to the child, including health insurance, military benefits, Social Security, inheritance and financial support. Children are also more likely to thrive when both parents are in the picture. If you have questions regarding paternity, then it is a good idea to speak with an attorney with experience in this area of Florida family law.