Paternity lawsuits are filed to prove the paternity of a child. When paternity needs to be established, an attorney who understands paternity law will play a vital part in protecting the rights of parent and child.

How is paternity established in the state of Florida?

One of the follow situations must occur:

  • When a married couple gives birth. Paternity defaults to the spouse; no tests are required. While at the hospital, both parents will complete a form to generate a birth certificate with both their names on it.
  • The parents are unmarried at the time of birth and the biological father confirms or acknowledges paternity in writing. If they are “together”, the biological father can complete a Paternity Acknowledgement Form (DH-511) while at the hospital to have his name included on the birth certificate and have his paternity formally recognized. If the parents are not together, the biological father should complete a Punitive Father Claim of Paternity (DH-1965).
  • When a child is born out of wedlock and the biological father does not fill out the DH-511 at the time of birth, but the father and mother later get married. The husband will assume the title of legal father; however, the father’s name will not be automatically added to the birth certificate. In order to update the child’s birth certificate with the father’s name, the parents will need to file a written statement or complete the Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida Form (DH-743A) when they apply for their marriage license with the Clerk of Court.
  • The father confirms or acknowledges paternity in writing any time after the child is born and before they turn 18. The child’s mother and father can complete the Acknowledgement of Paternity Form (DH-432) and submit it to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics. They will update the birth certificate with the father’s name. Note: This option is not valid if the mother was married at the time of the child’s birth—paternity will need to be established through the court.
  • The mother or father decides to file a civil paternity suit and establish paternity in court. The mother or father of a child may file a civil action to have a judge establish a paternity in a court order. During this court process, the judge can establish paternity if both parents sign a consent order and agree to legal paternity, by ordering a genetic test, or if the alleged father fails to attend the hearing, the judge may “default” him and make him the legal father.
  • A court in a different state has already determined paternity or paternity was established during the child’s birth in another state. Like marriage licenses, birth certificates and court rulings are recognized in other states. If a father is listed on a child’s birth certificate or a court has established a father’s paternity over a child, it will be recognized in Florida as well.

If you have a unique paternity situation, not listed above, it is in your best interest to seek the aid of a Florida paternity lawyer to discuss your rights and options available to you under Florida law. 

Once the paternity has been established and/or recognized by the court, the father can claim his rights to see his children and petition for time sharing. Child support may also be sought once paternity is established.

Tampa Paternity Lawyer

Having an attorney assist you in establishing paternity is not required; however, it can be highly beneficial, especially if you plan to file a civil action. An attorney can help you navigate your next steps and locate, complete, and file the necessary paperwork. Once paternity is established, the same lawyer can also help you in the next steps of seeking a time sharing agreement or settling child support arrangements.

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