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How to Establish Paternity in Florida


A father will not be able to fully assert his parental rights unless he can establish legal paternity for his child. Likewise, a mother will not be able to collect the child support that is rightfully owed to her unless she can establish that the man in question is the legal father of the child. For both parents, establishing paternity is extremely important. If you are involved in a dispute over paternity, you need to be ready to take action. Here, our Clearwater paternity attorney highlights the three basic ways in which paternity can be established under Florida law.

Three Ways to Prove Paternity Under Florida Law  

  1. A Valid Marriage

In Florida, the most straightforward way to establish paternity is through a valid marriage. If a mother is married at the time of the child’s birth, then her husband will automatically be assumed to be the legal father of the child. No further action needs to be taken for paternity to be established in this circumstance. Indeed, the father’s name does not even need to be listed on the child’s birth certificate.

If the married man finds out the child is not actually his, he may be able to disestablish paternity. To get parental obligations removed, a married man must file a claim to disestablish paternity in accordance with the requirements of Florida Statute 742.18. This must be done within two years of the date that the man finds out that there is a reasonable chance that he might not be the biological father of the child. 

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgement

Many children are born to unwed couples. In these cases, paternity is not automatically granted to the father. Action must be taken in order to ensure that the man will be able to access parental rights and that the mother will be able to hold him to his parental responsibilities. That being said, if there is no dispute over the parentage, this does not need to be a difficult process. Both parents can sign a Florida Acknowledgement of Paternity form. When completed and submitted properly, this document is sufficient to establish paternity. 

  1. Administrative Hearing

For cases in which there is a dispute regarding paternity, both parties need to be ready to take legal action. Paternity can be established through an administrative hearing. Paternity actions can be brought by both mothers and fathers. Typically, these disputes will be resolved through genetic testing. If paternity can be established, then the judge will issue an Order of Paternity. With this order, the now proven father will get full parental rights and full parental responsibilities. If you are a mother or father considering filing a paternity action, you should be represented by a qualified attorney.

Contact Our Florida Paternity Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our dedicated Clearwater family law attorney has extensive experience representing both mothers and fathers in paternity actions. To get immediate assistance with your case, please call us today at 727-584-2528 for a fully private consultation. With an office in Largo, our law firm serves clients throughout Pinellas County, including Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Dunedin, and Tarpon Springs.



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