Unmarried parents in the state of Florida can face unique issues when attempting to resolve custody or child support matters. One of these is establishing paternity. Unlike in the case of married parents getting a divorce, paternity is not automatically assumed in the case of parents who were never married. This means establishing paternity must be the very first thing before a child support order can be initiated.
Establishing paternity is extremely important for fathers. Just because a woman says you are the father of the child does not make it true, and once you have legally accepted paternity, it can be very difficult to change this later on even if you find out that you were not the father. Establishing paternity as soon as you aware that a child has been born is an important step.
In general, it is easiest to do this if the mother is in agreement. In this case, you can have a DNA test done to determine whether you are a paternal match for the child, and if so, move on with custody and child support orders. However, if the mother is not agreeable to the test or is denying that you are the father, you will likely need to file for a court-ordered paternity test through the Florida family court system.
Even though establishing paternity is as easy as a couple of cheek swabs, it is a very emotionally intense time. It’s important to have legal representation during this process who can help you understand your rights and how to fight for your child’s best interests in the courts.