paternity - daughter & dad

Legitimizing Paternity in Florida

It is often surprising to fathers who have a child out of wedlock that the State of Florida does not automatically grant them any rights, even if they are named as the father on the birth certificate. When a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the guardian and has legal custody. That means she does not have to grant access to the father of the child. If you are expecting or have had a child out of wedlock, legitimizing paternity should be a priority for several reasons, whether you are the mother or father.

Visitation and Child Support

If you do not have a good relationship at the time of the child’s birth, you still need to put the child’s best interests first. Although a newborn does not know his/her father, the father should (in most cases) have visitation of his biological children. The only way to guarantee this happens is by legitimizing paternity through the courts. Without being named the legal father you are not entitled to custody either.

As a birth mother, you can not request or force a man who has not acknowledged paternity or been proven to be the birth father to pay child support. You can ask for it, however, the state will not step in to garnish wages until paternity is legally established.

Insurance & Inheritance

Unless someone is legally recognized as a child of an individual, you cannot add them to your insurance. They are not entitled to an inheritance, Social Security, or Veteran’s benefits. Sometimes part of child support is insurance. Adding a child to your insurance could save you money.

How to Legitimize Paternity

If you and the birth mother are on good terms, the simplest way is to fill out DH Form 432. This can be done in front of two witnesses or a notary. This can only be done if the man claiming paternity is the one named on the birth certificate or if the father was left blank on the birth certificate. If another man is named, you cannot utilize this form.

However, if either the biological mother or suspected father is not cooperating, you can work with a paternity lawyer. They can bring a paternity action to court. A judge will then decide whether to order a genetic test. If paternity is confirmed, the state updates the birth certificate. With that, the father will receive the rights of a biological parent.

Let Wagstaff & Pitelis Help

As a paternity lawyer, we can help you legitimize paternity. Once that process is complete, we can help with visitation, child support, and even draw up a new will naming your child as a beneficiary. Call us today if you need the help of an experienced family law attorney – (727) 584-8182.