You and your ex may have loved each other for a while and had a child together even if never married. But now you have broken up and both of you want to pursue your rights related to the child, such as establishing child support. Before any of these processes can begin, you will need to establish paternity. Florida offers three ways to establish paternity.
Establishing paternity in the hospital
You can establish paternity in the hospital when your child is born. If there is no question about who the child’s father is, both parents can fill out and sign a Paternity Acknowledgement. This form can be provided by the hospital. Once notarized it legally establishes the man as the child’s father, and both parents’ names will appear on the child’s birth certificate.
Establishing paternity after the child is born
If you did not execute a Paternity Acknowledgement at the hospital, but you and your ex agree about who the child’s father is, you can fill out and sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This form can be found at your local Florida Health Department office or your local Florida Department of Children and Families offices.
Once notarized, this form can be sent to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics, and the father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate. It then allows both parents to pursue their rights regarding parentage and the child.
A third way to establish paternity is through a court order. This method is often used if there is a question regarding who the child’s father is. The court will usually order the “alleged father” to submit to a DNA test. These tests are very accurate. If it shows the “alleged father” is the child’s biological parent, the court can issue a binding ruling regarding parentage.
Children benefit when paternity is established
Children benefit from knowing who both their parents are. Knowing who their father is gives them a greater insight into their own family history and sense of self, and it allows them to be eligible for government benefits, health insurance and other needs. While you may have personal reasons for establishing paternity in Florida you should always keep in mind that doing so is ultimately in the best interests of your child.