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How Do I Establish Paternity in Florida?


Whether you are a father who is seeking child custody in Florida or a mother who is seeking to obtain child custody from your child’s biological father, you may be wondering how to establish paternity. Even in situations where the parents were in a long-term relationship and both raised the child together for a number of years, it may still be necessary to establish paternity. Under Florida law, the process of establishing paternity is known as the “determination of parentage.” We will say more about how a parent can establish paternity. In short, it involves more than simply taking a DNA test or signing a child’s birth certificate.

How Paternity is Established Under Florida Law 

Florida law has only two ways in which paternity can be established:

  • By default only when the parents are married and the child is born during their marriage; or
  • Through the legal system, which involves a number of steps that typically begin with a petition to establish paternity.

Ways of Establishing Paternity Under Florida Law When the Parents Are Not Married 

Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 742.10) provides specific information for how to establish paternity for children born out of wedlock. Either the biological mother or the alleged biological father may seek to have paternity established. Then, paternity can be established legally in the following ways:

  • Affidavit acknowledging paternity that is signed by both parents and filed with the clerk of court;
  • Court order to establish paternity; or
  • Adjudication of paternity through the Department of Revenue.

As you can see, establishing paternity either can be voluntary (through an affidavit of acknowledgement), or it can be compelled by a legal order (through the court or through the Department of revenue).

It is also important to note that paternity can be established through legitimation. This term refers to the process by which the biological mother and father get married after the birth of the child, such a decision also establishes paternity in much the same way as if the parents were legally married at the time of the child’s birth. Then it is possible to amend the child’s birth record with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics.

Steps for Establishing Paternity When There is No Voluntary Acknowledgment 

When the parents do not voluntarily agree to an affidavit of acknowledgement, then the court or the Department of Revenue, as we mentioned above, must establish paternity with a legal order. In most situations, a legal order results in a DNA test to determine the likelihood that the alleged or putative father is the biological father of the child.

One or both of the parents can be required to pay for genetic testing. Once the results of the genetic test come back, if the alleged father is determined to be the biological parent of the child, then the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics can add the father’s name to the birth certificate.

Once this process has been completed, either the child custody case or child support case—or any other pending issue requiring a determination of parentage—can move forward.

Contact a Florida Paternity Lawyer About Your Case 

If you have questions or concerns about establishing paternity in Florida, a Tampa paternity lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. for more information about establishing paternity or determining parentage in Florida.


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Bubley & Bubley, P.A. is located in Tampa, FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Odessa, Tampa, Oldsmar, Land O Lakes, Thonotosassa, Valrico, Wesley Chapel, Lutz, St Petersburg, Plant City & Brooksville, Safety Harbor, Holiday, Trilby, Crystal Beach, Ozona, Apollo Beach, New Port Richey, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Port Richey, San Antonio, Spring Hill, Lithia, Pasco County and Pinellas County.

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