Determining the identity of a child’s father provides financial and emotional benefits for the child and the child’s mother. These benefits include information about the family’s medical history, child support, benefits such as life and health insurance coverage and inheritance rights.
When parents are married to each other when the child is born, the child has a legal father without having to take any additional action. In Florida, there are several ways to establish paternity in other circumstances.
If the child’s mother and father are not married when the child is born, both parents can fill out and sign a paternity acknowledgement form in the presence of a notary public at the hospital. As soon as the form is complete, the man who signed the form is determined to be the child’s legal father. The hospital will then send the form to be recorded with the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.
If the child’s mother is not married when the child is born but then marries the child’s father, the husband becomes the child’s legal father but his name is not automatically added to the birth certificate. The parents will need to complete a form when they apply for their marriage license.
Paternity can also be established by filing a civil action in circuit court. The court will hold a hearing and both parties must attend the hearing. The court may order a genetic test to determine if the potential father is the child’s biological father.
Paternity actions can be complex and they have implications for child support and child custody arrangements. An experienced attorney can provide representation and advice.