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How do unwed biological dads legally establish parentage?

Are you certain that an ex-lover is pregnant with your child? In most cases, the mother of your child will agree to establish you as the father. That's because the mother of your child will benefit from the ability to receive child support payments from you, and she may see the advantages of her child having a bond with his or her father.

That said, even if she is denying that you're the father, legal avenues will be available to establish you as the legal father and to secure your parental rights -- even if you were unmarried at the time of conception or birth.

When you want to establish parental rights

The following strategies are not guaranteed to work in all cases, but if you're successful in establishing yourself as the father, you may be able to secure co-parenting rights, or even visitation rights.

Fathers with permission of the mother who want to establish paternity will use the following two methods. When the mother grants permission, the process of establishing paternity is simple and involves the following:

  • Be present during the birth of your child: With the permission of your child's mother, you will want to be present during the birth. After your child is born, you will sign a declaration of paternity, also referred to as an acknowledgment of paternity. In the process of signing this document, you will also want to have your name written on your child's birth certificate.
  • If you can't be present during the birth: Draft a declaration of paternity at some point in time between the birth of your child and before he or she turns 18. If the birth certificate is already complete by this time, you can have the birth certificate updated to include the father's name later.

Fathers who don't have permission from the mother will use this method:

  • Submit a declaration of paternity: You will need to complete a document that is either referred to as an acknowledgment, declaration or affidavit of paternity. Submit this form to the appropriate state authority. As a part of establishing yourself as the father, you may need to provide blood work, and pay a fee for DNA testing.

When you need to fight for paternity in court

Establishing paternity is not always easy. However, many persevering fathers have fought for the right to spend time with their children -- and be known as their child's father -- in court. The more you know about Florida family law as it applies to establishing paternity, the better chances you'll have of succeeding in this regard.

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