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Who’s the Father? Establishing Paternity in Florida

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Most people would agree that fathers can play an important role in the lives of children.  While there’s no disputing that plenty of people grow up with absentee fathers and turn out perfectly fine, for those lucky enough to have their dads actively involved in their lives, the benefits can be numerous.  In addition to the stereotypical teaching how to throw a baseball, fathers are often trusted mentors and counselors. Beyond even that, there are legal benefits to children whose fathers are legally acknowledged. That being said, for unmarried parents and some others, establishing legal paternity may require a bit of work.

Legal Rights for Kids 

Legally speaking, children can enjoy significant benefits when they have a legal father:

  1. Legal documents like their birth certificates can reflect their father’s name;
  2. Life insurance;
  3. Health insurance;
  4. Financial support;
  5. Social Security benefits;
  6. Veteran’s benefits;
  7. Inheritance benefits;
  8. Access to medical history;
  9. Time with their father.

Establishing Paternity 

For parents who are married, legal paternity is automatically assumed to be the husband.  If the biological father is someone else, or if the child was born to an unmarried mother, paternity has to be established. How to go about it?  There are a few paths, some pretty simple, and others a bit more complex:

When two unmarried parents have a child, they can voluntarily address the issue in the hospital by filling out a Paternity Acknowledgment form and having it notarized. The hospital sends the form on to the proper government office and voila! That’s all it takes!

If two unmarried parents later decide to marry, they can designate paternity during the marriage application process. The proper forms must be filled out, and the father’s name will be put on the child’s birth certificate.

Up until a child reaches the age of 18, two parents can establish paternity at any time by filling out the proper forms and having them witnessed or notarized and sending them to the proper government office.

When Paternity is Contested 

In the event either party is unsure of the child’s paternity, it could be time to get the courts involved. Both parties must appear before a judge and risk a ruling they disagree with if they fail to show up. The judge will listen to evidence and will likely order genetic testing to get a definitive answer to the paternity question.

We Can Help 

At WiseLieberman, our experienced Boca Raton paternity attorneys can assist with establishing paternity, whether you’re a mom trying to get a child’s father to be legally responsible, or you’re a dad trying to get legal access to your child.  To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our Boca Raton office today.

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