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Steps you must take to establish paternity if you want to request custody in Florida

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2021 | Child Custody & Visitation

While the state automatically considers children born to married moms and dads as belonging to both of them, they don’t view unmarried parents similarly.

Maternal rights are automatically conferred at the time of a child’s birth, but state law requires unmarried fathers to establish their paternity to gain visitation or custodial rights of their son or daughter.

How to establish paternity in Florida

Florida statute § 742.011, et seq. describes your two options for establishing paternity if you and your child’s mother weren’t married at the time of your child’s birth. This statute outlines how you have the option of signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity to establish yourself as your child’s father. You must sign this legal document in front of either a notary public or two witnesses for it to be legally-binding, though. 

Mothers also have a right to complete a Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief in instances in which a biological dad is unwilling to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity acknowledging their parentage. A judge will generally require any father who denies paternity to submit to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing to confirm that they’re indeed the child’s biological parent in such instances.

What happens after the confirmation of a dad’s paternity?

You, as a dad, gain the right to exercise your full parental rights following the confirmation of your paternity. You must go through the appropriate legal process petition the court for visitation or custodial rights, though. 

The court generally sees it as both parents’ responsibilities to contribute financially to raising their child. You should be aware that seeking visitation or custody of your child may result in child support’s imposition.

How do you establish paternity here in Florida?

Paternity is relatively straightforward to establish here in Florida. Gaining visitation or custodial rights with your child isn’t impossible, yet it may involve some strategizing, though. An attorney can help you get your name on your child’s birth certificate and exercise your parental rights here in Punta Gorda.