paternity laws

Florida Paternity Laws: Frequently Asked Questions

Paternity laws vary from state to state making it difficult for parents to know what to expect when having a child as an unmarried couple. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Florida paternity laws. If you have questions about paternity or your rights as a parent, contact us as soon as possible!

Is having the father’s name on the birth certificate enough to establish paternity?

No. In Florida, even if an unmarried father’s name is on the birth certificate, a paternity action is necessary to gain recognition as the child’s legal father. In many cases, this is as simple as both parents signing an agreement. If the child’s mother is married, her husband will be named as the child’s legal father.

What is the difference between a biological father and a legal father?

A legal father is recognized by the court and has legal rights to the child in the form of visitation rights, medical records, etc. However, a child’s legal father may not necessarily be his/her biological father. If a man believes he may be the biological father of a child, he may opt to file for paternity action. If confirmed as the biological father, a judge will determine who the child’s legal father should be based on the best interest of the child.

Who can file for a paternity action?

A paternity action may be filed by any of the following:

  • A man who believes he has legal rights to a child may file a paternity action to establish himself as the child’s legal father. Furthermore, a step-parent who raised the child may also wish to take this step.
  • A woman who is pregnant or who has given birth to a child can file to establish paternity of her child.
  • A child who would like to determine paternity if it has not previously been determined.

Is there a statute of limitations on filing for paternity actions?

Yes. In Florida, the time limit to determine a child’s paternity is four years after the child reaches the age of majority. The age of majority in Florida is 18 years old. However, it is recommended that paternity issues be resolved as early as possible to allow the child to develop a strong relationship with both parents.