Four Ways to Establish Paternity in Florida
Paternity matters. A father who wants shared custody rights must establish legal paternity. Likewise, a mother who wants to obtain child support payments must establish the father’s paternity. Without paternity, the alleged father of the child will not have legal rights or legal responsibilities. Proving paternity is an incredibly important step, that, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, can be challenging. Here, our Tampa paternity attorneys provide an overview of the four primary methods that you can use to establish paternity in Florida.
First and foremost, legal paternity can be established through marriage. In Florida, a married man will be assumed to be the father of his wife’s child. He will automatically be granted paternity —no further action required. On the contrary, if a married man wants to disestablish paternity, because he believes he is not the father of the child, he must take proactive measures to do so.
- Voluntary Acknowledgement
For unmarried parents, establishing paternity can be somewhat more complicated. That being said, it does not have to be difficult. If both parents agree that the man is the father of the child, they can jointly submit an Acknowledgement of Paternity form to state officials. The Florida Department of Health makes this form available to the public. To be clear, in order to be legally valid, this form must be signed by both the mother and the father and observed by a notary public or two other reliable witnesses. If either party disputes parentage of the child, then Florida’s voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form is not the proper way to establish paternity.
- Administrative Hearings
When paternity is disputed, it is often resolved through an administrative hearing. The Florida Department of Revenue is the state agency that is responsible for these cases. To resolve paternity cases, the Department of Revenue can conduct genetic testing through a local child support office. When appropriate, the Department will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity — a binding and legally enforceable order. One of the primary advantages of attempting to resolve paternity issues through the administrative process is that it can be quicker and less expensive than going to court.
- Court Orders
Finally, in some paternity disputes, litigation will prove to be necessary. If you are considering going to court to prove paternity, it is essential that you seek professional legal representation. Whether you are a father or a mother, you should have an experienced Tampa, FL paternity lawyer on your side. Your lawyer will be able to help you build a strong, compelling case so that you can protect your rights.
Get Help From Our Tampa, FL Paternity Lawyers Today
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our compassionate family lawyers represent mothers and fathers in the full range of paternity cases. If you need to prove paternity, we are here to help. For a strictly confidential consultation with a Florida family law attorney, please contact our legal team right away. From our office in the heart of Tampa, we represent clients throughout Hillsborough County, including in Valrico, Sun City Center, Temple Terrance, and Plant City.