Fatherhood is an incredible experience that enriches both you and your children. It is mutually beneficial for father and child to have a deep, meaningful relationship. Establishing and asserting your paternal rights will let you become an important person for your child.
Unfortunately for some fathers, paternity is not automatic the way that maternity obviously is. Thankfully, there are a few ways to do so. When can you establish yourself as the father of a child to assert your legal paternal rights in Florida?
Immediately after the birth of the child
There is one time that there is a presumption of paternity in Florida, and that is when a married woman gives birth. When your wife has a child, you are automatically the father of that child in the eyes of the state. If you aren’t married to the mother of your child, she can acknowledge you after the birth and have the state add you to the birth certificate.
Anytime before your child turns 18
Sometimes, relationship complications or unexpected life events will prevent a father from being involved with a child in their earliest years. That doesn’t mean that you lose the opportunity to be a father.
Anytime until your child becomes a legal adult, you have the option of establishing paternity to secure visitation or custody rights. In the Florida family courts, they refer to shared custody as time-sharing. There are two different ways to establish paternity after the birth of a child.
The first involves the cooperation of the mother. If she voluntarily agrees to acknowledge you, you can fill out some paperwork together and submit it to the state to have your name added to the birth certificate.
If she doesn’t agree to acknowledge you, you have to ask the Florida family courts for assistance. They can order genetic testing for you and the child that will conclusively validate your paternity. At that point, you will be able to initiate proceedings to ask for time sharing to become a more active father.
Understanding how to officially become a father in the eyes of the state of Florida will make it easier for you to step up as a father to your child.