When you have a child with someone in Florida outside of marriage, you have to take certain legal steps if you want time-sharing rights with your son or daughter. You also have to do so if you want to collect child support from the other parent, depending on your situation. Establishing your child’s paternity is also advantageous for your child because it helps him or her develop a stronger sense of identity. Establishing paternity also gives your child important information about family medical history, among other benefits.
Per the Florida Department of Revenue, the following are some of the ways you might establish paternity in Florida if not in a marriage with the other parent.
Through legitimization or acknowledgment
Until your son or daughter turns 18, you and the other parent may voluntarily establish paternity by completing and filing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. There are certain rules you have to follow when doing so. For example, you need to have either two witnesses or a notary public present when you sign the document.
Through a court order
Another option that you may need to consider, particularly if there is disagreement about paternity, involves securing a court order requiring the alleged father to submit to genetic testing. If a judge orders an alleged father to take a genetic test, it is typically the responsibility of one or both parents to pay for the test. The state’s Child Support Program may also help prove paternity by having all parties involved take genetic tests.
Once you establish paternity through the proper channels, you then have the right to seek either a time-sharing arrangement that grants you access to your child or a child support arrangement that helps you finance his or her upbringing.