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How to establish paternity and why it matters

  • When you establish paternity, your child gains legal rights to benefits.
  • Every child has the right to know and to be known by their father.
  • Your child may receive regular child support.
  • Your child will have legal right to death benefits which include social security, veterans’ benefits and any possible inheritance, in the event of the biological father’s death.
  • Establishing paternity allows your child to be informed of any medical issues that may be inherited.

The birth father can acknowledge paternity and therefore he agrees to accept responsibility for the child and pay child support.

The father can be present at the child’s birth and sign a “Declaration of Paternity “. The document is needed in order to have the father’s name on the birth certificate. If the father is not present at the birth, he can complete an affidavit of paternity anytime until the child turns 18. If the document is not completed before the birth certificate, the birth certificate may be altered to add the father’s name later.

Establishing paternity if the birth father does not volunteer.

If the birth father does not volunteer paternity, you may contact the local office of Child Support Enforcement.

The process to establish paternity this way will include:

  • In judicial cases, the child support staff collects information and other evidence about the birth father and refer the case to the state child support attorney (known as IV-D attorney) for legal action. The IV-D attorney represents the state child support agency.
  • A parent may hire a private attorney to represent them.
  • When the case goes to trial, the mother can be asked to be present in court to testify about the father.

Contesting paternity

On request of either parent in a contested paternity case, the court will require all parties to submit to genetic tests to determine paternity. Genetic testing identifies the birth father with a high degree of accuracy to prove the non- custodial parent is the biological father.

If the tests are positive, the father can contest the results and a second tests is done. If that second test is positive, a rebuttable presumption that he is the father takes effect.

Whenever paternity is disputed, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney. This will be important to ensure that the parties understand their rights and their responsibilities of paternity

Contact a Paternity Attorney Today

Attorney Lisa M Dawson, P.A. can advise the parties on other methods that paternity may be established, other than a court order. If you are a Florida resident and have questions on paternity law in Florida or have questions related to paternity, call Lisa M Dawson, P.A. today for a free consultation.