Chances are you’ve considered yourself to be your child’s father since day one. But if there isn’t a marriage that ties you and the mother of your child together, then you probably aren’t your child’s legal father in Florida.
Many fathers have different reasons for establishing paternity. Some dads are already involved in their child’s life and want to pass along their last name. While others might believe it’s important to have another parent who is not only financially responsible for their child, but who also has legal custody obligations or visitation rights. Plus, if you have an ounce of fear that your child’s mother might put your child up for adoption, having legal paternity can allow you to stop this action.
If you’d like to establish paternity in the near future, it’s possible to do so a few different ways in the state of Florida:
- At your child’s birth: If your child has yet to be born, you can establish paternity right as your child is born. You can achieve this by signing a paternity acknowledgement form with your child’s other parent while a notary public is present.
- After your child’s birth: There is a separate form you can fill out after the birth of your child to establish paternity called an acknowledgement of paternity form. This form requires signatures from you and your child’s other parent, and the signing must take place while a notary public or two witnesses present. After the form is complete, you can submit it Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics to change your child’s birth certificate.
- Through marriage: Legally marrying your child’s mother means you don’t have to take any extra steps to establish paternity. But if you marry your child’s mother after their birth, you can establish paternity too. As you fill out a marriage license for a court clerk to approve, you should include “Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida” form or a written statement in order to establish paternity.
- By court order: If you are unsuccessful in establishing paternity through legal forms and methods listed above, you can also file a civil court action. Through a court hearing, a judge can issue a court order that makes you the legal father of your child. It’s worth noting that the judge might require a genetic test as evidence in your case.
Fatherhood is privilege that not everyone can experience. Family law attorneys understand the importance of establishing paternity and can help you through the legal process.