When a child is born to parents who are married, the woman’s husband is automatically assumed to be the child’s biological and legal father. However, plenty of babies are born to single mothers every day. Sometimes, the mother is married to someone else, she has an affair, and the child’s real father is not her husband.
If a child’s biological father is not married to the mother, what rights does he have? Does he have to pay child support still? Can he seek custody or visitation? Across the nation, unwed fathers have zero rights and responsibilities toward their children until paternity has been legally established.
So, if you are a single mother seeking child support, the court cannot issue such an order until paternity is established first. Likewise, if you’re an unmarried father, you can’t legally demand to see your child, nor can the court issue any custody or visitation orders until paternity is confirmed.
How Do I Establish Paternity?
Before we discuss how to establish paternity, let’s first clarify what “paternity” means. It means to determine who a child’s legal father is. When a child is born to married parents, he or she has a legal father. When the child is born out of wedlock, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established.
How do I establish paternity in Florida?
- When the parents are not married during the time of the child’s birth, both parents can voluntarily establish paternity at the hospital by filling out a Paternity Acknowledgement form. This is the quickest and easiest way to establish paternity when there is no doubt about who the child’s father is.
- If paternity has not been established because the father wasn’t there for the child’s birth or because the mother or the alleged father is not 100% sure about who the father is, paternity can be established through genetic testing and a court order.
Do you need to open a paternity case? To get started, we invite you to contact our family law firm at (561) 336-6082.