Paternity & Establishing Paternal Rights in Florida

Florida Paternity Law & Establishing Paternal Rights

Family Law Attorneys in Jacksonville FL

In Florida, when a child is born to unwed parents paternity must be established. The father is known as a putative parent and must establish paternity and his rights as a father. Paternity can be established voluntarily or through a court order. Section 63.054, Florida Statutes, provides for the establishment of a Putative Father Registry in the Bureau of Vital Statistics: “Actions required by an unmarried biological father to establish parental rights; Florida Putative Father Registry”.

If there is no voluntary acknowledgement, either the mother or the man who believes he is the father may proceed to court to establish paternity. The case should be started in the county where either the mother or father resides. If paternity is at issue the court will order a genetic test for the mother, child and the putative father. A case can be started before the child’s birth, but the final hearing can’t be held until after the child is born.

Paternity Must Be Established in a Court of Law

Paternity must be established in a court of law to obtain your parental rights and time with your child. This is true regardless of whether the father is listed on the birth certificate, the Department of Revenue has established a child support order, or the father and the mother live together unwed. The father must still petition the court for an order addressing these issues. Without this order Florida law assumes that the mother has all of the parenting time and sole decision making authority.

If the parties cannot agree on timesharing or who the minor child will live with primarily, the judge will decide based on the ‘best interests of the child’ factors listed in Florida Statute 61.13(3) and create a parenting plan accordingly. With a court-ordered parenting plan, each parent’s timesharing is defined by the judge. Any violation of the parenting plan could subject that party to being in contempt of court. Child support will be calculated or recalculated based on the parties’ incomes and the amount of overnights is granted in the parenting plan. If a child support order is previously in place it is often lowered once the father is granted timesharing based on current Florida law.

Please give us a call at (904) 707-8711 or send a message through our contact form if you would like a free case evaluation regarding establishing paternity in Florida, establishing parental rights, custody, or visitation with your child. One of our Jacksonville Family Law Attorneys will speak with you regarding your paternal rights and available courses of action.