Establishing Paternity in Florida
Many fathers are shocked and upset to learn that, until legally established, they actually have no legal relationship with their child if they were not married to their child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth.
Especially for fathers who have played an active role in parenting their child, learning that the law does not recognize your parenting rights can be hurtful. Fortunately, Florida law provides several ways for fathers to establish their legal relationship with their children.
If you are a father seeking to establish your parental rights, an experienced Boca Raton paternity lawyer can help.
Acknowledging Paternity in Florida
One of the easiest ways to establish paternity is at the birth of your child by signing a paternity acknowledgment form in the hospital. If both parents agree to acknowledge that you are the father of the child, the paternity acknowledgment form can be filed along with the information for the child’s birth certificate. Parents can also choose to sign the acknowledgement at a later date, or the parties can stipulate with the court that the father is the natural, legal parent of the child.
Unfortunately, many fathers are unaware of the option to acknowledge paternity at the time of the child’s birth, and wrongly believe that being listed on the birth certificate or giving the child the father’s last name is enough to establish paternity, when this is not the case.
Filing an acknowledgment of paternity is simple when both parents agree and want to establish their child’s legal relationship with his or her father. But, when couples break up and begin engaging in parenting disputes, sometimes an uncooperative mother who wants to block the father’s access to his child will refuse to acknowledge paternity if she has not yet done so. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need the immediate assistance of an experienced family law attorney who handles paternity cases in Boca Raton.
When Paternity is Disputed
If the mother of your child is refusing to sign an acknowledgment form, or if she is claiming that you are not, in fact, the biological father of the child after all, your paternity lawyer in Florida can ask the judge to order a genetic paternity test. Once you are found to be the child’s genetic father, your legal paternity will be established.
In some cases, the court may not even require a genetic test and can instead issue a court-order establishing paternity. For instance, if the mother refuses to comply with a court-ordered genetic test or if she fails to appear in court, your paternity lawyer may present evidence to the judge to establish that you are the child’s father.
The court has the discretion to consider many types of evidence, including text messages, emails, letters, photographs, testimony from other family members, hospital records, and other relevant materials that may establish your paternity or whether the mother has acknowledged your paternity in the past.
Consult with an Experienced Paternity Lawyer in Boca Raton
Our compassionate paternity lawyer in the Boca Raton area at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg, P.A. understands that your relationship with your child – or the relationship you desire to establish – is incredibly important. We will fight passionately to help you gain access to your child and to continue or begin to be a meaningful part of his or her life.