father holding newborn child

Even in the best of circumstances, parenting is a challenge. When a child’s parents were never married, the process becomes even more complex. Before issues of support and child-rearing can even be discussed, the father’s legal status, or paternity, must be established.

If you have questions about a paternity case in Florida, the Caveda Law Firm, P.A., has answers. We have been helping residents of Tampa, Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County for more than 15 years.

Contact us today by calling (813) 463-0800 or by filling out our online form.

Establishing Paternity

In the state of Florida, legal paternity is automatic only in cases where the mother of the child is married at the time of the child’s birth. In all other cases, paternity must be established. In Florida, there are four alternate ways of establishing paternity:

  • Legitimation — The biological parents marry after the child is born and subsequently update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.
  • Acknowledgement of Paternity — Both parents sign a legal document mutually acknowledging paternity (in the hospital at the time of birth or later).
  • Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing — A legally binding order that takes effect after genetic tests show who the father of the child is. (This method is often preferable because it is based on genetic proof, is available free of charge and does not require a hearing in court.)
  • Court Order — Paternity is established by order of a judge in court. (Genetic testing may also be required.)

Establishing paternity is a critical step in determining what, if any, parental rights and responsibilities an individual may have. Although biological paternity is clearly relevant, it is legal paternity that determines these rights and responsibilities.

Your Rights & Responsibilities

When a couple is not married, a man who believes he is the father of a child may seek to establish paternity so that his father’s rights are protected. These rights include time-sharing (visitation and custody) as well as the right to make important legal decisions regarding the child (shared parental responsibility). Additionally, the establishment of paternity comes with a variety of legal responsibilities. Most notable, of course, is the obligation to support the child financially.

Just as a father may seek paternity, the mother also may wish to determine the legal father of her child. In doing so, the mother stands to gain the financial support as well as share the parenting responsibilities with the child’s father.

In addition to the benefits to the parents, establishing paternity has even greater benefits for the child. In addition to the increased financial security, these benefits include:

  • Knowing the identity of both parents.
  • Knowing or having access to relevant medical histories.
  • Potential insurance benefits (medical, dental, life).

We Can Help!

Whether you are a mother or a father, legally establishing the paternity of your child is an important step. However, this process can be complex, particularly if one of the parties is not cooperative. Having knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel at your side can make the all the difference.

Contact the attorney at the Caveda Law Firm, P.A., by phone at (813) 463-0800 or by filling out our online form.

We have been helping Florida residents of Tampa, Tampa Bay, and Hillsborough County with family law matters for more than 15 years.