Understanding How Florida Law Affects Fathers
If you and your child’s parent were never married, it is very important for you to understand the law regarding paternity adjudications, including your parental rights and obligations. In Florida, the current laws state that unless there is an order of paternity, the mother of a child born to an unmarried couple has ultimate authority over all decisions about the child. There are actions which can be taken by either parent to secure the father’s rights and establish the father’s share of the financial and emotional responsibility for the child. Without a paternity order, the child’s rights to the father’s death benefits, which includes social security or veteran’s benefits and/or inheritance, are not established and the child may not be able to receive any benefits. Additionally, unless there is a court order, the payment of support is not enforceable should the other party stop providing support. Likewise, without established paternity, a voluntary timesharing agreement is not enforceable in the absence of a court order.
If the mother was unmarried when the child was born, but later marries the father, paternity is established by the act of a legal marriage and no other legal action is necessary. Once married, a child born during the parties’ marriage is presumed to be a child of the marriage, even if the parties were separated at the time the child was conceived and born, and even if the legal father is not the biological father. The legal act of marriage creates a presumption that all children born during the marriage are legitimate.
Acting in the Best Interest of the Child
Studies have shown that a child who has two parents actively involved in his or her life is a happier and more productive child and adult. Both parents should work to place their differences aside for the best interests of the child.
If the father is unsure whether he is the real father of the child, he may request scientific genetic testing (DNA testing) to prove whether he is the biological father. This testing may be performed by local laboratories as a relatively affordable way to determine paternity between the child and father.
Contact a Paternity and Family Law Attorney in Florida
If you think you may be the father of a child but have no legal claim to the child and want to assert your parental rights, we want to hear about your case.
Alternatively, if you are an unmarried mother and want to ensure that the father bears legal responsibility for your child, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our family law attorney. Contact Ambrose Family Law at (407) 388-8740 for more information.