When a child is born to two married heterosexual parents in Florida, state law assumes that the male spouse is the child’s biological father and automatically establishes paternity based on that. If a child’s parents are unmarried while the child is born, it can be a bit more complicated to legally establish who the child’s father is, especially if either party disputes who the child is genetically related to.

As with many other legal matters involving close family members, this situation is generally much easier to handle with help from a knowledgeable family attorney. If you need to establish who a child’s father is, your top priority should be contacting a Pinecrest paternity lawyer for assistance.

The Difference Between a Child’s “Biological” and “Legal” Father

One important thing to understand about how Florida approaches paternity as a legal concept is that, technically speaking, being a child’s “biological” father is not the same as being their “legal” father. The biological father is the man who actually fathered the child and shares a genetic relationship which can be proven through DNA testing. The legal father is the man who is legally recognized as one of the child’s guardians and has all the rights and responsibilities afforded to fathers under state law.

There are situations where a child’s biological father and legal father are two different people. For example, a man may decide to formally adopt a child or the biological father is deemed unfit to hold legal rights. A Pinecrest paternity attorney can go into further detail about how state law approaches these cases.

Options for Establishing Legal Paternity in Pinecrest

As mentioned above, paternity is automatically established at the hospital when two married parents have a child together. Likewise, if two unmarried parents have a child together and both voluntarily agree on who the child’s father is, they can legally establish paternity together at the hospital when the child is born. They can also do so later when applying for a marriage license or at any time before the child turns 18.

If paternity is not established in any of these ways, it may be necessary to petition for a court order to accomplish the same outcome. This is something a paternity lawyer in Pinecrest can help with. The paternity process works similarly to most other civil court actions: the petitioner must serve a copy of their petition to their child’s alleged father, who then has an opportunity to contest the petition. Then both parties may need to appear for a hearing if the issue is not resolved outside of court.

Genetic Testing for Paternity

In many situations, this will end with genetic testing to determine biological paternity. The testing can be either court-ordered or completed voluntarily by the alleged father. If genetic testing identifies the man as the child’s actual biological father, the court will issue an Administrative Order of Paternity, meaning the Bureau of Vital Statistics adds the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate, and the mother can pursue child support and other parental obligations from the father.

Talk to a Pinecrest Paternity Attorney Today

Depending on the circumstances, establishing paternity is can be quick and easy. It could also be complicated and drawn out by someone who does not believe they are, or does not want to be acknowledged as, a child’s father. In that case, you benefit by having The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm on your side.

A Pinecrest paternity lawyer is available to assist you with getting the favorable case resolution you want. Call today to learn more in a free case evaluation.