When you find out you are becoming a parent, you have a million different things running through your mind. There is no right or wrong way to react to that news, but is everyone treated the same under the eyes of Florida law when it comes to parental rights?
If you are married, are you automatically the father? If you are unmarried, do you, as the father, have to establish paternity?
How can I establish paternity?
In Florida, if a couple is married, paternity is automatically given to the husband in the marriage. If a couple is unmarried, there are several options to help the father establish paternity.
If both parents sign an acknowledgment of paternity in a hospital at the birth, the father can gain paternal rights, if the form is done properly (a form can also be done later with witnesses or a notary). Parents, if married at a later date, also have options for applying for paternity via a form, along with the request for their marriage license.
What if he or she will not sign a form agreeing to paternity?
If there are contentions about the paternity, you may have to file a civil action in a family court to establish paternity. Either parent can bring the civil motion. Judges may order genetic testing, or they can issue judgements, if say a defendant father named does not come to court.
You can also contact the Florida Department of Revenue to request a genetic test appointment. This requires cooperation from the mother, alleged father and child.
They can use results from the test to correct a birth certificate and establish paternity without a family court order.
Once paternity is established, the father becomes endowed with the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, which includes the right to seek custody or child support.