The Benefits of Establishing Paternity (for Unwed Mothers and Fathers)

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In Florida, a Husband is presumed by law to be the Father of a child born during the intact marriage and must actually seek to disestablish paternity if he is not the biological or adoptive Father of the child. Establishing paternity in situations where the parents are not married can get complicated — especially if the mother and father are not on good terms. This blog will discuss the methods by which unwed fathers can establish paternity of their children, as well as some reasons why establishing paternity can benefit all parties.

Unwed Fathers Can Sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity at the Hospital

The most efficient way for unmarried fathers to establish legal paternity is by signing a document at the hospital when the mother gives birth. Both parents must sign the form, DH-511, in the presence of a notary. Fathers who establish legal paternity by this method will be named on the birth certificate. Another easy way for unmarried fathers to gain legal paternity is by marrying the mother. Fathers who establish legal paternity this way can have their child’s birth certificate amended if they were not added at the time of birth.
Another option for unmarried parents who agree on paternity is to sign Form DH-432, which is the Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This voluntary acknowledgement becomes final 60 days after both parents sign it and can lead to the addition of the legal father’s name on the child’s birth certificate.

If Both Parents Do Not Agree on Paternity

When there is a dispute between unmarried parents over paternity of a child, either parent may start a case in Florida circuit court to establish paternity. After a paternity case is started, the other parent must be served and notified about the court hearing. In the meantime, the judge will typically order a genetic testing upon motion and may make temporary child support or time-sharing orders. Once paternity has been established, either parent has legal standing to petition for time sharing, child support, and decision-making authority.

So, Why Go Through the Trouble of Establishing Paternity?

There are many reasons why it is prudent to legally establish paternity in a situation involving unwed parents. The mother can pursue a court order to start receiving child support; additionally, the child might become eligible to be included on the father’s health insurance plan or be the beneficiary of certain government benefits. Having information concerning the father’s medical history could also be beneficial for the child. Last, the Father cannot exercise time sharing or parental responsibility over the child without establishing paternity. Until paternity is established, the Mother has 100% time sharing with the child.

In a broader appeal, children who have access to both parents during their upbringing often grow up to be better-adjusted adults. There are obvious exceptions for domestic violence, substance abuse, and other criminal behavior, but fathers’ being in their children’s lives is almost always beneficial. If you want what’s best for your child and are forced to deal with the legal system, our firm wants to help. We specialize in resolving stressful family law matters efficiently. Call our team at (954)-447-2580 to set up a confidential consultation today.

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