Fathers in Florida play an important role in their children’s lives. This is true whether they are married or not, but for legal purposes, fathers have different rights depending on if they are married or not.
Florida law presumes that fathers who are married are the fathers of children born during the marriage. There is no such presumption of paternity if the father is not married to the mother of the child.
That means in order to gain any legal rights to their children, unwed fathers need to establish paternity first. There are a couple of ways this can occur.
One is through genetic testing. This is done through the courts and the mother of the child is usually ordered to cooperate. Once the results of the test are complete, they can be used to determine whether the man is in fact the father of the child.
Agreement of the parents
The other way to establish paternity is through agreement. The parents can also agree that the man is the father of the child.
This can be done in one of two ways. One is by the parents signing an affidavit or stipulation stating that the man is the father of the child and filing it with the court.
The other way the parents can accomplish this is by having the parents sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity which is notarized and witnessed by two individuals. The parents sign the document under the penalty of perjury. Once that is signed it creates a rebuttable presumption of paternity, but it can be rescinded by either parent within 60 days of signing it.
Establishing paternity in Florida is essential for unwed fathers if they want custody and parenting time with their children. Until paternity is established and custody is granted, the presumption is that the mother is the sole custodian of the child. Experienced attorneys understand the importance of establishing paternity and may be able to guide one through the process.