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How Is Paternity Established?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2014 | Family Law

Most of the time, paternity is established the old-fashioned way: a baby is born to a Mom and a Dad who are married. But when Mom and Dad aren’t married, however, paternity can get tricky. In Florida, if a couple is not married at the time a baby is born, paternity needs to be established in order for the father’s rights and obligations as a parent to be initiated.

Paternity is established in the following ways: first, if the couple gets married post-child’s birth and updates the child’s birth certificate via the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, the biological father officially becomes the legal father. Second, if both parents sign a legal document establishing the father’s paternity either at the time of the child’s birth in the hospital, or at a later time, paternity is established. Finally, a court order establishing paternity, or an administrative order following genetic testing, can establish paternity. Some erroneously believe that the father signing the child’s birth certificate legally establishes paternity or the rights of the father. However, while signing the child’s birth certificate creates a presumption that the man who signed the birth certificate is the father, an unmarried couple would still need to undertake one the other methods discussed in this blog post to legally establish paternity.

What occurs in the situation where a baby is born to two parents who are married, but another man may actually be the biological father? If either the man claiming he is the biological father or the husband challenges the husband’s paternity, a court must first determine whether it would be in the best interests of the child to allow such a challenge to the husband’s paternity. Some situations may present where the Judge finds it is not in the child’s best interest to challenge the husband’s paternity. Otherwise, the Judge may order genetic testing of the parties.

If you are thinking you are alone in this process, remember, not only are there many, many paternity establishment cases initiated each day in the Florida court system-there are also stories in the news of prominent public figures being accused of fathering children which the figures deny: Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, and Eddie Murphy, to name a few. Sometimes the stories turn out to be true via acknowledgement and confirmation by the man or paternity testing; other times, false. Recently, Beyonce’s father, Mathew Knowles, has been served with his second paternity lawsuit in several years. This time, the suit was brought by a 30-year-old woman. She is claiming he is the father of her Texas-born daughter and is requesting a paternity test. In 2010, Knowles initially denied he was the father of son born to an actress. He later acknowledged he was the father and, in 2013, was ordered to pay child support for the child. Paternity establishment is a universal issue that can affect anyone who has ever been in a non-marital sexual relationship.

Paternity establishment can be a complicated, tricky area of the law-especially in situations where the biological father is not the legal father. It is always best to consult an attorney when attempting to establish paternity, whether you are the mother or father. If you find yourself in this situation, call Saunders, P.A., and speak to one of our experienced attorneys to determine the first step to establishing paternity in your case.


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