Establishing paternity is essential for couples that have a child outside of marriage. It establishes legal paternity. Unfortunately, in Florida, you’d still need to establish legal paternity as an unmarried father, even if you were listed on your child’s birth certificate.
In order to establish paternity, you’ll have to follow a court process. While this can seem like a challenge, hiring an attorney for paternity establishment in Orlando can help the process go smoothly.
Why Should You Establish Paternity?
Without the formal process of establishing legal paternity, you don’t have the same rights as a legal father. While this might not seem like an immediate problem, it could make things difficult in the future.
Establish paternity grants you visitation and custody rights. Even if you and your partner were never married, it protects your ability to visit your child if you ever separate from your partner.
How is Establishing Paternity Different Outside of Marriage?
If you and your partner are married when your child is born, you are automatically granted legal paternity. It’s assumed that you’re the father when you’re married to your partner. In this case, you are assumed the father until proven otherwise.
As an unwed biological father, you don’t have as many rights. Without DNA proof of paternity, the courts won’t legally recognize you as the child’s father. If this is the case, you can’t be considered the father (legally) until proven otherwise.
To establish paternity outside of marriage, you’ll need to contact an attorney and work with the courts to prove and legally recognize your role as a father.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
There’s no “best time” to establish legal paternity. However, doing it shortly after your child is born can get it out of the way and ensure there aren’t any problems in the future. This is highly recommended, especially if you have worries about the future of your relationship with the child’s mother.
Establishing immediate legal paternity isn’t necessary. If you aren’t worried about establishing legal paternity immediately, it’s alright to wait a few years.
When you establish legal paternity, your child will have legal rights to your affairs and their inheritance. Although no one likes to think about it, death could come suddenly and unexpectedly. If legal paternity hasn’t yet been established, your child won’t have an automatic right to their inheritance.
It’s important to note that you only have until four years after your child reaches the age of majority (18 years old) to file for legal paternity. After that, you can’t.
How Do You File for Legal Paternity?
If you and your partner both agree that you are the father, then you can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity that grants you rights as the child’s legal father. Signing this form grants you all the legal rights and responsibilities that any legal father has, including visitation and custody rights.
A Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity is legally binding 60 days after being signed and submitted. Very rarely will the courts allow you to set it aside. It’s the best way to establish legal paternity when there is no disagreement on the matter.
If there is a dispute over who the father of a child is, you will be required to submit DNA proof to the courts. This can be a long process and will require the help of an attorney.
Who Can File for Legal Paternity?
If you believe you are the biological father of a child and should also be considered the legal father, you can file for paternity. A mother who wants to establish the legal paternity of her child may file on behalf of her child.
The child may also be able to file for paternity if it hasn’t already been established or there are still doubts.
It’s best to file for paternity as soon as possible. But you do have up to four years after your child reaches the age of 18 to do so. To ensure the process goes smoothly and no time-consuming problems arise, contact us to help you from start to finish.