Top Questions Regarding Paternity in Florida


Paternity is the process of identifying a legal father of a child born out of wedlock. Establishing paternity is beneficial in many cases as it gives both fathers and children rights in matters of custody and support. Below, we discuss the top questions regarding paternity cases in Florida. 

Why is Establishing Paternity Important? 

There are many beneficial reasons for establishing paternity if a parent or a child desires it. If two parents are not married but have a child together, one parent may need to pay child support to the other. Once paternity is determined, the father may be eligible for custody or visitation with the child. Other financial reasons for establishing paternity are claiming a child as a dependent on taxes. Most importantly, verifying paternity is important because fathers have the right to be active in their children’s lives.

How Do You Determine Paternity?

If both parents agree on who should be the child’s legal father, both parents can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form to confirm paternity. This can be done before or after the child’s birth. The document requires the parents to acknowledge the legal father and swear that the information is true under oath. It is legally valid 60 days after it is signed. After that time, it cannot be revoked unless it is proven that it was signed under threat of force or fraudulent circumstances.

If the parents will not voluntarily acknowledge paternity, either the mother or man believed to be the child’s father can bring up a court order to establish paternity. DNA testing may be requested during this process, and a judge will determine legal paternity based on both parties’ evidence. Although both parents must attend the court hearing, a judge may grant paternity even if one parent does not appear in court. 

Usually, both parents will need to be present during the court hearing. However, paternity can be established even if the alleged father does not appear in court as ordered.

How Do You Challenge Paternity? 

A father can file a petition with the family court to disestablish paternity. The result of this disestablishment may include the termination of child support payments. For paternity to be revoked, the petitioner must present new evidence (along with an affidavit), such as genetic testing, determining that he is not the child’s biological father. The petitioner must have obtained this evidence after the initial paternity determination. 

How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity? 

Establishing paternity can be done anytime between the child’s birth and before they turn 18.

Do Mothers Have to Establish Paternity? 

No legal requirement exists to name a legal father unless both parents desire it. When a child is born out of wedlock or to a single parent, the mother becomes the child’s legal guardian, and paternity is established voluntarily or through a court order. 

Who Can File for Paternity? 

● A man who believes he’s the biological father of a child. 

● Pregnant women.

● Unmarried women who want to name their child’s father legally. 

● A stepfather or other parental figure currently raising a child who wants to become the child’s legal father. 

● An adult child who wishes to establish their legal father (must file within four years of turning 18). 

Remsen Law: Lake County Family Attorney

Paternity cases come with many emotions. Get in touch with our family attorney, Frank P. Remsen, to understand your rights in this situation. Call us at 352-243-1247 to arrange your initial consultation.