Raising a family is never easy, but parents face additional challenges if they were never married. Before issues of support and child-rearing can even be discussed, the father’s legal status, or paternity, must be established. You may consider getting a paternity test if you’re not married to the mother of your children. Here’s what you need to know before making that decision.
How To Establish Paternity in Florida
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.
Florida offers four alternative methods of establishing paternity:
- Legitimation: The biological parents marry after the child is born and update the birth record accordingly.
- Acknowledgment of Paternity: Both parents sign a legal document mutually acknowledging paternity.
- Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing — This legally binding order that takes effect after a genetic paternity test is available free of charge and does not require a court hearing.
- Court Order — Paternity is established by the order of a judge in court, possibly using a genetic paternity test for proof.
Why You Need To Get a Paternity Test
If you’re not married, but you believe you are the father of your children, you may choose to pursue a paternity test to establish paternity. Doing so will protect and uphold your rights to custody and decision-making.
Mothers may also have an interest in seeking a paternity test to ensure that the father of their children is held legally responsible for financial support.
Establishing paternity has even greater benefits for your 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)
Get Help from Paternity Specialists in Tampa, Florida
Whether you are a mother or a father, legally establishing the paternity of your child is an important priority. 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 all the difference. The attorneys at Caveda Law Firm, P.A., are here to guide you through the process.