Establishing your child’s parentage offers numerous benefits, to you and your child alike. For your child, this step may provide him or her with family medical history information, the right to draw health or life insurance from both parents, the ability to receive financial or medical support from both parents, and the knowledge of his or her parents’ identities.
According to the Florida Department of Revenue, paternity is presumed for married couples who have a child together. If you have a child out of wedlock, however, you must take steps to establish yourself as your child’s legal father.
Paternity through voluntary acknowledgment
The most efficient and easiest way to establish paternity as an unmarried father is at the time of your child’s birth at the hospital. At that time, you and your child’s mother may complete and sign a paternity acknowledgment form. Upon completing the form, you become your child’s legal father, gaining you access to all the rights and responsibilities afforded to parents. If you do not establish paternity at the hospital, you may still do so through a voluntary acknowledgment up until your child reaches the age of 18-years-old.
Paternity through legitimization
Another path to establishing paternity is by getting married to the mother of your child. You may choose to provide a written statement when applying for your marriage license or by completing an affirmation of common child born in Florida form and returning it to the court clerk along with your completed marriage license. The court clerk will then send your completed form or statement to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics, at which point your name will get added to your child’s birth certificate and you become established as your child’s legal father.
Paternity by court order
Should you and your child’s mother disagree about your child’s paternity, a legal father for your child may also be established through civil court action. In order to make a determination, a judge may listen to evidence and order genetic testing.