In the state of Florida, if a married couple has a child, the husband is presumed to be the father. In cases where parents are unmarried, or if there is any question as to who is a child's biological father, establishing paternity can be a bit more tricky. Several methods can be used to legally determine who has fathered a child.
Even if parents are not married, the mother and father can both agree that a man is in fact the father when a child is born. By signing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form, the parties are stating that they have no question that the man is the father of the child. This option is available any time after the birth until the child turns 18 as long as the mother was not married at the time of the birth.
Paternity may also be established through a court order when the parties cannot agree that the man is the father or if the mother is unsure who the father is. Either parent may begin the proceedings. A mother may wish to establish paternity to ensure the child receives financial support from the father. A father may wish to begin proceedings to ensure that he will have a chance to build a relationship with his child.
If a Florida parent finds himself or herself in a situation where paternity needs to be established, it may be a good idea to consult a family law attorney. He or she may be able to assist parents as they attempt to establish custody arrangements, child support orders, and other parental rights and responsibilities. Often, an attorney can explain paternity proceedings and help parents make informed decisions when it comes to upcoming court proceedings.