If you believe you fathered a child but the child’s mother was not your wife at the time of the birth, you do not have any rights to that child until you establish legal paternity. Establishing paternity can have tremendous benefits not only for your child, but for you, and every child deserves to know his or her parentage.
As a parent, you may want to establish paternity so you can pursue custody or otherwise have a say in decisions affecting your child’s life, and the child’s mother may also want to establish paternity so she can collect child support from you to help provide for food, clothing, education and so on. In addition to giving you legal rights as a parent, knowing who his or her father is can have a considerable and positive impact on a child.
Benefits of establishing paternity for your child
Once you become your child’s father in the eyes of the law, your child can gain access to your health insurance benefits, and he or she can also adopt a greater understanding of his or her medical history. Establishing paternity also gives your child access to any Social Security or military benefits you may have, and it also gives your son or daughter an opportunity to collect from your estate in the event of your passing.
How to establish paternity in Florida
If you and your child’s mother were unmarried at the time of birth, the easiest way to establish paternity is for both of you to agree and sign off at the hospital that you are, in fact, the child’s father. If you do not establish paternity at the hospital but marry your child’s mother before the child reaches age 18, you can establish paternity when you apply for your Florida marriage license. The two of you may also, should you decide not to marry, establish legal paternity through signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. If there is a dispute over your child’s parentage, the next step involves filing a civil action to determine paternity in a Florida circuit court.
Regardless of the relationship between you and your child’s mother, your son or daughter deserves to know who his or her father is.