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Sarasota Paternity Attorney

Father’s Rights Cases

In Florida, paternity rights are determined by several factors. The most critical factor is that the mother and father agree to legal and biological paternity. However, there are other ways to establish paternity in Florida. If you are the father of the child and want to ensure that you have the same rights as any other father, it is important to understand Florida paternity law.

What Rights Does a Father Have in Florida?

In Florida, fathers have the right to file a court order to complete a paternity test if they believe they are the father of the child. If the test proves positive, the child’s father has the right to petition the Court for visitation or child custody. If both parents agree the father is the biological father, they can sign what is called a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.”

A child’s legal father has the parental responsibility to provide financial support for their children. Fathers may sometimes be required to pay child support even if they do not have visitation or custody rights. However, fathers have the right to petition the Court for a reduction in child support if they can demonstrate that they cannot fulfill the child support obligation.

What Establishes Paternity in Florida?

There are five ways parents can establish paternity in Florida.

  1. Marriage: If the mother’s child is married at birth, her husband is automatically assumed to be the legal father. The mother can then list her husband on the child’s birth certificate, which is then processed to establish paternity. If the mother does not list her husband on the birth certificate, the father will need to establish paternity another way.
  2. Acknowledgment of Paternity: If the mother is unmarried at the time of birth, the parents may sign and file an Acknowledgment of Paternity Form. This form must be signed before two witnesses or a notary public to be considered valid under Florida paternity laws. Once filled out, the parents can file this form with the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics. From there, the father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate, and paternity is established.
  3. Court Order: Another way a father can establish paternity in Florida is by filing a civil action, going to Court, and obtaining a court order. This court order will indicate who the legal father of the child is. There are several ways paternity can be established by going to Court. Both parents can agree on paternity and sign a consent order. This is usually adopted and used as the final order. If the parents disagree, the judge will likely order a genetic test to determine paternity.
  4. Administrative Order of Paternity Based on DNA Testing: If you want to establish paternity without going to Court, you can voluntarily get a DNA test done. Samples are needed from the mother, alleged father, and child, then provided to their local Child Support Office to be tested. If the alleged father returns as the biological father, then the office will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity. This order will allow the father’s name to be added to the child’s birth certificate.
  5. Legitimization: If the mother is unmarried at the time of the child’s birth and then is later married, the husband will become the child’s legal father. This does not automatically put the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate. The mother and father must submit an Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida Form or sign a written statement under oath in Court when applying for their marriage license. Once either of these is completed, the Court Clerk will forward that information to the Florida Bureau of Vital Logistics authority and have the father’s name added to the birth certificate.

What Rights Does a Father Have if He is on the Birth Certificate in Florida?

If you are unmarried and your name is on the birth certificate, this is not enough to establish rights for visitation or custody of your child under Florida paternity laws. Until the Court establishes that you are the legal father, your rights are limited.

One way to ensure you obtain rights for shared parental responsibility and visitation is to have you and the mother sign an Affidavit and Acknowledgment of Paternity that establishes you as the child’s father. This will need to be filed with the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.

It is also helpful to have a signed Paternity Agreement between you and the mother if you were to split up. This will outline your shared responsibilities and ensure you obtain rights as the father.

What Rights Does a Father Have Once Paternity is Established in Florida?

Once paternity is established in Florida, fathers have the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent. This includes the right to request custody or visitation, the right to information about their child’s medical care and education, and the responsibility to provide financial support for their child. In addition, fathers who have been granted custody also have legal rights to make decisions about their child’s upbringing, including decisions about education, religion, and medical care.

In some cases, fathers may also be entitled to receive child support from the child’s other parent. Establishing paternity is essential for fathers who want to ensure they have the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent.

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Florida?

In the eyes of the law, every child deserves to know who their father is. For this reason, fathers have a legal responsibility to establish paternity if they wish to be involved in their child’s life. While fathers have up until the child reaches the age of majority—which is 18 years old—to file a paternity action, it is generally in their best interest to do so as soon as possible. By taking action early, fathers can ensure that they will have a role in their child’s life from the beginning.

Can a Mother Refuse a Paternity Test in Florida?

A mother is presumed to be the parent of a child unless proved otherwise. As a result, a father who wants to establish paternity may have to take legal action. Sometimes, the mother may be ordered to take a paternity test. If she refuses, she could be held in contempt of Court. This could result in a fine or even jail time in extreme instances. It’s never a good idea to decline legal orders.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Paternity can be a confusing and emotionally charged topic, especially if you are unsure of your rights as a father. At Bragg Family Lawyer, we understand how important it is to establish paternity and will work with you to ensure that your rights are protected. We can help answer any legal questions you may have and guide you through the process of establishing paternity. We value our attorney-client relationship and are here to help you understand Florida law. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help you establish your paternity rights.

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With over 20 years of combined experience in family law, we know how to navigate the system to fight for what’s right. Let us fight for you.