Children in Florida deserve to be financially supported by both parents. This is true even if the child’s parents were never married and are no longer in a relationship with one another. If a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the child’s father. However, before an unmarried mother can seek child support or before the child’s father can seek parenting time with the child, paternity must be established.
Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity
If the child’s parents are unmarried when the child is born, the child’s mother and father can sign a Paternity Acknowledgment form at the hospital. Once signed and notarized at the hospital, the man will be considered the child’s legal father for child support and parenting time purposes. It is important to note that this option is only available if the mother is unmarried when the child is born.
An Acknowledgment of Paternity can also be filled out after the child’s birth up until the child turns age 18. The child’s parents can fill out and sign the form in the presence of a notary public or two witnesses.
Paternity established by the court
Paternity can also be established by filing a civil action wherein a man will be deemed to be the child’s father via court order. The judge may order a genetic test to determine paternity. A hearing will be scheduled for both parents to attend. If the alleged father misses the hearing, the judge has the ability to “default” the alleged father, meaning that paternity will be established, and the man will be considered the child’s father for legal purposes.
Both parents should share financial responsibility for raising their child
Parents may have a child together, and even if the parents are no longer in a relationship with one another, the child deserves the support of both of them. Establishing paternity is an important step in obtaining child support or parenting time. Our firm’s family law webpage may be of interest to those wishing to establish paternity.