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Paternity Issues in Florida: How to Establish – or Disestablish – Paternity

Paternity can be a complicated topic in Florida if couples aren’t married. Florida law considers the mother the sole parent if she is unmarried. If a woman is married, but the baby isn’t her husband’s child – the law will assign the husband as the father. If a mother and father want to handle paternity issues on the spot in the hospital, they can start the process through voluntary acknowledgment or a court order.

Voluntary Acknowledgement:

The mother and father, if both parties agree, can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. This method is one means of establishing paternity if the parents of a newborn are not married. The Acknowledgment of Paternity treats the man who signs the paperwork as the child's father, with all the rights and responsibilities therein. When parents sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity document, they are swearing to the child's paternity in question. Couples have 60 days between signing and approval to revoke the document. The document can be revoked if either parent can prove fraud or threats took place when the document was completed.

Court Order

If the parents do not complete the voluntary acknowledgment, and there is disagreement regarding paternity. Either parent can petition the court to determine paternity. If either parent wants to start the paternity case before the child is born, it is allowed, but final orders cannot be delivered until after the birth.

Florida law dictates that a paternity case can be initiated by:

  • The child’s mother
  • The child’s alleged father
  • The child’s legal representative
  • The Florida Department of Revenue to establish child support

How to Disestablish Paternity

Sometimes paternity situations don’t play out the way we hope. When one partner is not honest about paternity issues, the court system must rectify the situation. An example of this is when a mother informs the man she believes to be the biological father about the child only to find out that she is not correct about the paternity. The presumed father established paternity with the state of Florida, but now the mother has informed him that he is not the father. He has been paying child support for a child who is not his. How does this situation get resolved? For this situation, Florida law allows for challenges to legal paternity in Florida Statute 742.18. For fathers who need to disestablish paternity in Florida, you need to file a Petition to Disestablish Paternity with the court.

If you need a lawyer to review your paternity case's details, the team at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. would be happy to answer any of your questions. Call us at (727) 245-9009 or reach out to us online right now.