Establishing Paternity in Florida
Fatherhood is more than just the sharing of genetic material. A biological father might have the physical choice to be involved in their child’s life, but the law requires a father to provide financial support regardless of that choice. Over the years, the tools to determine the paternity of a child have become simplified, inexpensive and accessible, making that fairly straightforward. A parent is legally entitled to a contribution of financial support by a biological father. The legal system provides mechanisms for both a parent seeking support through proof of paternity and for a biological father desiring to establish a connection with their child.
How to establish paternity
There are four ways in which to establish legal paternity in Florida:
- Genetic (DNA) testing
- Court order
Once paternity has been confirmed, the father has the obligation to provide financial support and health insurance, and receives the right to parenting time with the child. If the child is old enough to be cognizant that the father has only recently entered their life, the judge might order supervised visitation for a period of time until the child feels comfortable and safe in the father’s presence.
Proof of paternity also gives a child access to the father’s family genetic and medical history and information, Social Security benefits and the right to inherit assets or property from the father’s family.
The rights of a non-biological father
There are cases where a biological father is not the father the child knows. A biological father can waive his parenting rights if his involvement would not be in the child’s best interest, or in order for a non-biological or stepparent to adopt the child. This process is not unheard of in Florida, but it is not generally encouraged unless there is a very compelling reason, such as a father who is incarcerated and expected to remain in prison past the child’s 18th birthday.
If you require legal guidance in the matter of proving paternity of your child, speak with a Florida family law attorney. We know your rights as a parent and are willing to fight for you.