In Florida, and most other states, paternity is the establishing of a man as the legal father of a child born out of wedlock. By establishing paternity, certain rights and benefits are conferred upon the mother, child and the father.

Establishing Paternity

Florida has several methods of establishing paternity:

  • The father is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
  • If unmarried, the parents sign a document acknowledging paternity as part of the father signing the birth certificate and the court enters an order based this.
  • Count order based on positive genetic testing or other factors, such as the parents admission of paternity.
  • The unwed natural father marries the mother and updates the child’s birth certificate to reflect his paternity and the court enters and order based on this

Court Proceeding

A man who has not been established as the father has no parental rights until he files a Petition to Establish Paternity and the Florida family court and his paternity is established to the satisfaction of the court. Either parent can file the petition to obtain their legal rights and to set up a parenting plan which establishes parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule.

Paternity Rights

For the father or mother, paternity rights include the following:

  • The ability to obtain a child support order
  • To obtain a court order regarding parental responsibility and time-sharing
  • To participate in important legal decisions about the child

Children benefit from having a father legally identified with the following rights:

  • Health insurance
  • Financial support from child support orders
  • Social security or veteran’s benefits
  • Inheritance

Father’s Rights

An unwed father does not have time-sharing rights until he obtains a court order, even if the father signed or acknowledged his paternity on the child’s birth certificate. This means that the mother as the natural and legal custodian of the child is free to leave the state with the child if no order establishing partenity exists. The same is true if the father is ordered to pay child support but has no order providing for time-sharing and parental responsibility.

Paternity cases are complicated and often involve extreme emotions and passions. Retaining an experienced family lawyer is essential if paternity is an issue in your case. Contact the Morey Law Firm, P.A. for an attorney who has successfully represented clients in paternity cases.

Call the Morey Law Firm, P.A. today for a free consultation regarding the circumstances of your case at (407) 426-7222.