The Value of Establishing Paternity

As family lawyers, we work with clients during some of the most challenging times in their lives. Cases in which paternity is in question are especially sensitive, as the outcome will significantly impact a child’s future. Whether it’s a mother trying to legally identify her child’s father or a father wanting visitation rights with his child, we frequently work with parents to successfully resolve these delicate issues.

Benefits to Parents and Child

It goes without saying that identifying a child’s legal father has a meaningful impact on the child’s life. A child’s connection to his/her parents and the opportunity to develop a relationship with a father figure are invaluable. But the benefits of establishing paternity extend to the parents as well. When both parents are legally recognized, they have certain rights regarding their child. For example, once paternity is established, parents can work together with legal counsel to obtain shared custody, financial support, and resolve relocation issues. Simply put, paternity ensures that parents share the responsibility of raising and supporting their children financially and otherwise.

In addition to emotional and financial support, a child gains certain privileges when a legal father is identified including access to the following …

  • Social Security
  • Military benefits, if applicable
  • Inheritance
  • Family and medical history
  • Health and/or life insurance coverage

How to Establish Paternity

According to Florida law, if a child’s parents are married at the time of birth, it’s presumed that the mother’s husband is the child’s legal father. When unmarried parents have a child, paternity must be established. The simplest process takes place in the hospital at the time of birth. The father simply completes a Paternity Acknowledgement form which is then signed by both parents and recorded by the state. For more complex cases or situations where the father is not present at the hospital or is not identified until the child is older, paternity may be established voluntarily by the father or by court order. The process varies depending on the specifics of the case, and in some instances, DNA testing may be required.

Whether you’re expecting or already have a child, if you have questions about paternity laws, our experienced legal team is here to answer them. If you’re facing paternity challenges, we can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process. We encourage families to resolve paternal issues as quickly as possible for the benefit of the child. Contact us today!