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Resolving Paternity Issues in Florida
A mother who has a child out of wedlock is presumed to be the child’s natural guardian and is entitled to primary residential care and custody of the child unless a court order states otherwise.
A father who is listed on a birth certificate or files a notice with the Putative Father Registry does not establish his status of the child in this manner. Chapter 742 of the Florida Statutes is the sole legal means of establishing paternity where a mother does not or refuses to admit the child’s father.
Court Determines Paternity:
- The parties can agree to paternity by signing an affidavit.
- The father signs an affidavit witnessed by two people.
- A child support case is brought by the State of Florida and determines paternity.
- If in another case such as an inheritance case, worker’s compensation paternity is decided.
If the individual claimed to be the child’s father contests his status he has the right to have a DNA test to either prove or disprove paternity.
Married Mother of Child:
The husband of a married woman is presumed to be the child’s biological father unless there is a clear and compelling reason otherwise.
The Court may order a DNA test if asked by the party claiming paternity where it is demonstrated that doing so is in the child’s best interest. This requires a court hearing and the mother’s husband must be a party to the case. The unmarried father must show that he has by word and deed established a substantial and continuing concern for the welfare of the child.
Even if the mother and her husband agree that he is not the father of the child so he may remain the child’s legal father but not the child’s biological father who will owe a duty of paying child support.
Any determination by the Court requires the filing of a lawsuit and service on the opposing party with a summons and petition. The suit may be brought where either party resides.