In Florida, paternity is established in one of two ways:
- the child is born during your marriage to the father; or
- the father acknowledges his paternity and it is officially instated through a court of law.
What happens if you weren’t married to the father of your child at the time of birth and he refuses to go before the court? Is there a way to force the biological father to take responsibility for your child?
How to Establish Paternity
Usually (if the mother and father of a child are not married when the child is born) the father signs a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form. This form becomes final and irrevocable 60 days after it is signed. However, if the father of the child refuses to sign the form and denies that he is biologically responsible for the child, you may need to take this to establish paternity in court.
Under Florida law, the following persons and/or agencies can start this court process:
- the mother;
- the man believed to be the biological father;
- the child (through legal representation); or
- the Florida Department of Child Support Services.
The paternity case should be started in the circuit court of the county where the mother resides. The court will order a DNA test for the mother, child, and alleged biological father. The alleged father must comply to this test or run the risk of being held in contempt of court.
Aside from establishing paternity, a judge can also make decisions regarding:
- child support;
- child health insurance;
- child custody; and
- court fees and costs the mother paid while establishing paternity.
If the alleged father is proven to be the true biological father of the child, he will be obligated to the responsibilities of parenthood.
Are You Having Trouble Establishing the Paternity of Your Child?
Attorney Hershkowitz can provide the legal support you need to get the biological father of your child to admit paternity. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association’s Family Law Department and can help you every step of the way.
Contact our firm online or call us at (407) 753-4111 to schedule a consultation.