Establishing Paternity

Why Establish Paternity

Establishing Paternity at Birth

Establishing Paternity Voluntarily or by Legitimization

If the parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, and the father does not sign the birth certificate at the hospital, paternity may be established later voluntarily or by legitimization.  Establishing paternity by legitimization occurs at the time the parents of the child become married.  During the marriage license application process, the father can claim, or legitimize, their child.

In order to voluntarily establish paternity if the parents are not married, both parents may sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which is then filed with the Florida Health Department and the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Signing this form will require a notary and witnesses.  It is important to note that this route to establishing paternity cannot be taken if the mother was married at the time of the child’s birth.

Establishing Paternity by Order

As a final resort in Florida, you may seek to establish paternity by order.  Either the mother or the father may request the order.  Establishing paternity by order puts in motion one of several legal court proceedings.  If the father, the mother and the child all agree, then genetic testing can be done and paternity established once the results are in.  If one or more of the parties do not agree to voluntary genetic testing, a civil case may be filed.  In this case, a judge will order genetic testing to occur.

Establishing paternity by order can be a complicated matter involving multiple legal filings and potentially a civil court case.  You should feel free to approach an attorney for a free initial consultation to discuss the particularities of your paternity case.


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