When a man fathers a child with his wife, he will receive paternity rights automatically, as the legal process assumes he is the father. On the other hand, when a man fathers a child when he is unmarried, paternity rights are not transferred automatically. Specific steps need to be taken in order for the man to be on record as the father of the child. Fathers are always best served to take those steps as soon as possible – while they are still in a relationship with the mother – in order to avoid possible complications in the event of a breakup.
The easiest way to establish paternity when a couple is not married is for the couple to get married. If the marriage happens prior to birth, then the father will be presumed to be the husband. However, if the marriage occurs after the birth, then a legitimation form can be completed, and that will provide the same parental rights to both spouses.
Marriage is not a requirement to voluntarily establish paternity. Parents can also complete a special form that acknowledges who the father is, and file it in state court. Parents might choose to complete this form immediately after the birth of the child at the hospital, or they can do it at any time after the birth. When the form has been processed, the child’s birth certificate will feature the name of the father.
Florida fathers may not want to try and handle the establishment of paternity on their own. Indeed, our relationship with our children is just too valuable to take a gamble on. At the Law Office of Kelley A. Joseph, PA, we provide assistance to ensure that fathers legally and securely establish their custody rights, and we are available to answer any questions Florida fathers might have about their parental rights.