There are numerous benefits to establishing yourself as your child’s legal father, but the process may seem confusing in circumstances outside of traditional marriage. If you and your child’s mother are not married when your child is born, you may need to go through a specific legal process to establish paternity in Florida.
The Florida Department of Revenue states that paternity is automatic when a child is born to married parents. However, you may need to sign an official form to gain the rights and responsibilities of legal fatherhood if you are not married to your child’s mother. In most cases, you may establish paternity from the time your child is born until he or she is 18 years old.
If you and your child’s mother are not married but agree that you are the father, you may establish paternity at the hospital when your child is born. To do this, you both must fill out a Paternity Acknowledgment form and sign it in front of a notary public. You may use a different Acknowledgment of Paternity form to establish your fatherhood status at any point until your child is 18. Both forms require you and the child’s mother to agree that you are the father.
There is another form you may need to sign to get your name added to the birth certificate if you and your child’s mother get married after the birth. You may provide a written statement of paternity when you apply for a marriage license or sign an Affirmation of Common Child(ren) form. If you are unable to establish paternity voluntarily through any of these methods, you may need to get a court order for a genetic test.