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Establishment of paternity in Florida: How it works

Florida families are not always traditional. The modern family unit is flexible and takes a lot of different forms. You might find two unmarried parents living with their kids, a single mother living with her children and a boyfriend, two married parents with stepchildren from previous relationships, and so on.

Of course, it's always obvious who the mother of a specific child is. The parental status of the mother is established at birth. In the case of the father, establishing parentage could be a little more involved — especially if the father doesn't sign the birth certificate, or if the mother and alleged father disagree on who the biological father happens to be.

For many legal reasons, it's vital to clarify who the father is to the children. Mothers need to identify the biological father of their children in order to receive child support payments. Meanwhile, biological fathers need to legally identify their children in order to be granted visitation rights with their kids.

How to establish paternity

If the mother and father both agree on who the father is, it's a simple process of filing the appropriate legal documentation. Establishing paternity like this is advantageous to both parents, as the father will usually receive visitation rights and the mother will usually be granted monthly child support.

The issue of paternity becomes more complicated if the parents disagree on the identity of the father. This is where DNA test results may come into play. If the parents voluntarily submit to DNA testing, parentage can be established this way.

If either side does not voluntarily submit, the mother or father can file a petition to collect a DNA sample for testing. Once a positive DNA connection between the father and the child is established, the appropriate petitions can be filed with the court regarding visitation rights and child support.

Are you in the throes of a paternity dispute? Learn more about your legal rights and options now.

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