Families are more diverse than ever, due in large part to recent changes in federal law and considerable shifts in beliefs regarding "traditional" families. People are getting married later or not at all and divorce continues to be a reality for a considerable part of the population in the U.S.
However, one thing that has not changed is the importance of a child's well-being. No matter what a family structure looks like, it is crucial that a child is safe, cared for and loved by parents and other caregivers. In some cases, protecting the welfare of a child requires some legal solutions. For example, unless two parents are married in Florida, a paternity test is needed to confirm the identity of the child's father.
Paternity testing can be crucial for a few reasons. To begin with, it identifies a father legally if parents are not married. In Florida, children of unwed parents have no legal father. Even if two people have been in a long-term committed relationship and have no doubts about a child's biological father, in the eyes of the law, paternity has not been established.
Establishing paternity can also help parents understand and enforce their rights. Without a test, unwed fathers may find it all but impossible to seek custody or visitation. Mothers in this situation will not be able to collect child support from a man who has not been confirmed as the biological father of a child.
Further, identifying the biological father of a child can be important when it comes to health and genetic issues. Building a thorough medical history and knowing about certain risk factors that may affect fathers can help children and their parents make more informed decisions about their health.
Of course every situation is different and establishing paternity may not be a priority for everyone. However, exploring paternity testing and matters related to fathers' rights can be crucial for parents who are not married. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options in this situation.