Although it is assumed that when a couple is married that the father of any children born during the marriage are the biological children of that man, this may not always be the case. If the mother engaged in an affair that led to the pregnancy, the father may be in question. However, if you believe you are or could be the father, establishing paternity is still possible. Conversely, if you do not believe you are the father of the child, you have the right to find out.
Things to Consider
Whether you need to establish paternity because you want to be involved in your child’s life or are now separated from the mother and do not believe it is your child, it is important to realize the consequences of either establishing paternity or removing yourself as the father.
- Child Support — If you are the biological father, you may be responsible for child support. Establishing paternity will allow for this action.
- Mental Impact — Depending on the age of the child, they may experience a mental impact upon receiving the news. This should not discourage you from your rights as the father; however, you and the other adults in the child’s life should proceed with the help of a trained counselor.
- Custody — As the biological father, if you are not but want to become the legal father, you may. This would allow you to request visitation and time sharing. Keep in mind, if you have not been involved in the child’s life up to this point, it may start off as a slow introduction. Then you may move onto regular visitation. If you are not the biological father but wish to be the legal father, you will need the consent of the biological father. This will also require the help of a family attorney.
There are other reasons you may want to establish paternity or be named a legal father. Learn more in our previous blog by clicking here.
Steps in Establishing Paternity
In Florida, if you believe you are the biological father and the mother does not want to acknowledge you as the father or simply does not know, you can file for a paternity action. This can begin prior to the child being born, though it will not be finalized until after the birth.
Although you can file the paperwork without the help of a family attorney, you may need the assistance of one to set up time sharing and child support. Wagstaff and Pitelis have vast experience in establishing paternity and assisting both mothers and fathers with their cases. Call us today for a confidential consultation at (727) 584-8182.