One important aspect of child custody is establishing paternity, which is the legal process of determining who a child’s biological father is. In Florida, there are several ways paternity can be established.
These include marriage, voluntary acknowledgment and a court order.
When a child is born during a heterosexual marriage, Florida automatically presumes that the husband is the child’s father. His name will be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
A biological father can also establish paternity by signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. Both parents must sign the form in front of a notary public or other qualified witness. The form must be signed and filed with the health department.
If the biological father denies paternity or is unsure whether he is the child’s biological father, either parent can petition the court to establish paternity. The court may order a DNA test.
Rights and responsibilities
All three of these options establish legal rights and responsibilities for the father. The father has the right to seek custody or visitation with the child.
The child is given the right to inherit from the father’s estate, which includes property, assets and money. Paternity also provides the child with the right to receive financial assistance from the father in the form of child support. This covers the child’s expenses like food, clothing, housing and education.
The child has the right to access the father’s medical history, to change his or her last name, and may be eligible to collect social security benefits if the father is also eligible.
Establishing paternity has benefits for both the father and the child.