Florida fathers might value and cherish their relationship their children even without having custody rights, but they may still be interested in establishing paternity.
Putting off taking the steps to gain legal custody can create more mystery about the process. So, to help you understand the benefits of earning legal rights as a parent and how you can achieve parentage, below are some answers to questions that you may have.
Do I have to get married?
Marrying your child’s other parent is one approach to establishing paternity, but it isn’t your only option. Whether you are planning to have children or expecting a baby soon, as long as you are married to your partner prior to the birth of your child, then there are no extra steps you need to take. Just make sure both parents’ names are on the birth certificate at the hospital.
Is it too late?
If your marriage wasn’t official at the time your child was born or you didn’t establish paternity with the available forms and witnesses at the hospital, it isn’t too late. If you plan to remain unmarried, then you can fill out an acknowledgement of paternity form with the child’s other parent. But, if you plan to marry your child’s other parent, then you can seek paternity rights when you apply for a marriage license. In order to add your name to the child’s birth certificate, you must fill out a form affirming the child is indeed yours under oath and in front of clerk of court.
Is a genetic test required?
Besides marriage or a voluntary acknowledgment form, you can also file a civil action or seek an administrative order through the Florida Department of Revenue’s child support division. While you won’t have to appear in court via the latter option, you will need to take part in a genetic test. It’s also likely that a judge will ask you to submit a DNA sample if you go through the process in a court setting.
Will it benefit my children and me?
People seek legal custody for a variety of reasons. For starters, gaining custody will allow you to pass along the family name. On top of that, by becoming your child’s legal father, you are eligible to seek visitation rights and potentially build a stronger connection by being able to be present for your kids. Paternity will also allow you to pass along your health benefits while you are alive and an inheritance when you pass away.
Your reason for seeking rights may be unique to your personal values or traditions. To help you along the way, an experienced family law attorney can consult you on an approach that makes the most sense.