How to Establish Paternity in Florida


Establishing paternity in Florida is a crucial step for the father of a child to affirm their legal paternity and secure their parental rights. Whether you are seeking to be recognized as the biological father or need to file a paternity action, understanding your legal rights is essential. 

At Quinn & Lynch P.A., our experienced Tampa family law attorneys are dedicated to guiding you through this process of establishing paternity in Florida, ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way. Don’t navigate the complexities alone; let a knowledgeable legal representative from our team assist you. 

For legal advice and representation, call 813-223-7739 or contact us online

What Does Establish Paternity Mean Under Florida Law?

establishing paternity in florida

Under Florida law, to establish paternity means to legally determine the child’s biological father, which has significant implications for child support, inheritance, and parental rights. 

When a child is born to parents who are not legally married, the man believed to be the father becomes the “alleged father” until paternity is legally established. This can be done in several ways, including both parents signing an acknowledgement of paternity soon after the child’s birth or through a court order. In cases where parents are legally married at the time of the child’s birth, the husband is presumed to be the father under Florida law. 

Establishing paternity in Florida ensures the legal father has rights and responsibilities towards the child. It also grants the child rights, such as inheritance and access to the father’s medical and insurance benefits. 

Ways to Establish Paternity in Florida

Establishing paternity in Florida is governed by Florida statutes, offering various methods for fathers to acknowledge their role in a child’s life legally and bolstering fathers’ rights in Florida.

One common approach is through a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, typically completed at the hospital soon after the child’s birth. 

For family law cases requiring further verification, an administrative order may mandate a genetic test, commonly known as a DNA test. The genetic test is sent to an independent laboratory to conclusively determine the biological father. This process affirms all the legal rights and responsibilities for the father of the child while benefitting the child by providing access to family medical history and potential inheritance rights. 

Paternity Acknowledgment Form and Child’s Birth Certificate at Birth

How to Establish Paternity if Father is in Another State

When there is a child born to unmarried parents in Florida, the use of a paternity acknowledgment form is a common method to establish paternity without needing a court order since common law marriage Florida isn’t recognized, typically. Once both parents sign this voluntary form, the man is established as the child’s legal father and allows his name to be added to the child’s birth certificate.

This process is an important step in ensuring the child’s right to support and the recognition of the legal father-child relationship, simplifying many aspects of familial bonds and legal paternity in Florida from the very beginning.

Does Signing a Birth Certificate Establish Paternity in Florida?

In Florida, signing the child’s birth certificate does not automatically establish paternity. For unmarried parents, the paternity acknowledgment form must be signed by both the mother and the father. This acknowledegment of paternity is necessary to legally establish the father of the child. 

While signing the child’s birth certificate is important, filing the paternity acknowledgement form legally defines the father’s relationship to the child, ensuring his rights and responsibilities are recognized under Florida law. 

Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida Signed by Legal Father

In Florida, acknowledgement of paternity is a written document that serves as the affirmation of common children born in the state by a legal father. It is often accompanied by proof such as the child’s DNA evidence, to assert paternity.

This written declaration, recognized under Florida statute, is a formal statement that must be notarized by a notary public to ensure its legal validity. By completing a paternity form and providing DNA evidence, the legal father takes a significant step toward securing his parental rights and responsibilities, ensuring that his legal relationship with the child is formally acknowledged and recorded.

To have the child’s biological father added to the birth certificate after marriage, both parents need to sign the Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida form, or form DH-734A, or provide a statement under oath when applying for the marriage license.

Paternity Hearing for Alleged Father

How to Establish Paternity in FL

A paternity hearing for an alleged father is a legal process initiated to determine the natural father of a child, often leading to the establishment of parental rights and responsibilities, including child support payments. 

This hearing is crucial when a child is born if there is a question about the biological father. During the hearing, the circuit court examines evidence such as a genetic test to ascertain the child’s legal father.

If the court finds sufficient evidence to establish paternity, the alleged father may be recognized as the child’s father, thereby granting him parental rights and potentially imposing a child support order.

Establishing Paternity for Child Support in Florida

Establishing paternity in a legal sense is a crucial step for securing financial support and parenting time for a child. 

When a paternity case is initiated, it often involves filling out a paternity form to legally determine the father of the child. Legal acknowledgement of paternity clarifies the child support obligation and formalizes the rights to parenting time. 

Establishing paternity in Florida ensures that both parents are responsible for providing for the child’s needs, from basic sustenance to educational expenses. A Tampa child support lawyer can help lay the groundwork for a legal relationship between the father and the child, ensuring the child receives the financial support necessary for a stable and secure upbringing. 

Establish Paternity Florida FAQs

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Florida

In Florida, questions about establishing paternity cover a range of scenarios, from timelines for paternity action to handling cases where the biological father resides out of state or is deceased. Each situation underscores the importance of legal processes in affirming the father’s role and ensuring the child’s legal right to financial support and a parent-child relationship.  

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Florida?

In Florida, there is not a fixed deadline by which a father must establish paternity, but the process should ideally begin soon after the child is born to ensure the father’s parental rights are recognized. If both parents agree, the father’s name can be added to the acknowledgment of paternity and birth certificate at the time of the child’s birth, simplifying the process. 

However, if the parents do not agree, or if the father is not present at the child’s birth, the alleged father may need to take legal action to establish paternity for the minor child. This is crucial for conferring parental rights, including the right to custody or visitation and the obligation to pay child support. 

How to Establish Paternity if Father is in Another State

Establishing paternity when the alleged father resides in another state can involve several legal steps, including genetic testing and obtaining a court order. 

In cases of a paternity dispute, the court may order DNA testing to confirm the biological relationship between the alleged father and the child. This process can be initiated through a paternity action filed by either the parent or the Department of Revenue, especially if child support payments are being sought. 

Once paternity is established, the court or the Department of Revenue can issue an administrative order, making the alleged father the legal father, which is crucial for enforcing child support orders. 

This procedure ensures that children receive the support they are entitled to, regardless of state lines, by legally establishing paternity and the responsibilities that come with it.

How Do I Establish Paternity if the Father is Deceased?

Establishing paternity when the father of the child is deceased can be complex but is achievable through specific legal procedures. 

If the child’s father passed away before the child is born, the child’s mother can seek to have him recognized as the legal father posthumously through genetic testing. This may involve obtaining a court order to test the deceased father’s genetic material if it was collected by an agency such as a coroner’s office. Once paternity is established through genetic tests, the father’s name can be added to the birth certificate. 

Additionally, an acknowledgment of paternity, if signed before the father’s death, can also serve as a basis for establishing legal paternity. 

Establishing paternity in such cases is crucial for the child to receive benefits, such as social security or inheritance, and for the child to have a legal record of who their father was. 

How a Tampa Paternity Lawyer Can Help With Family Law Cases

Whether you are an alleged father seeking to confirm your status as the father of the child or you need assistance with child support orders, a skilled attorney can guide you through the process.

 From facilitating genetic testing to presenting other evidence in court, an experienced Tampa paternity lawyer ensures that all the legal rights of the involved parties are recognized and protected. 

If you’re facing paternity issues, Quinn & Lynch is here to assist you. Our experienced team is committed to providing the guidance and support you need to navigate these challenges successfully. Call 813-223-7739 or schedule a consultation today.

Contact Our Experienced, Dedicated Divorce & Family Law Lawyers Today

As a dedicated family law practice in the Tampa Bay area, we work one on one with our clients, resulting in representation that is characterized by genuine care and understanding. If you are dealing with divorce or other family law issues, please contact at 813-223-7739  to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced family and divorce attorneys.