Florida Mother’s Can Seek Child Support Through Establishment of Paternity

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

In Florida, a Birth Certificate signed by both a mother and father lays a presumption that the one signing as the father is the child’s biological father, however, it does not lay a foundation for the father to have rights or obligations to the child in the eyes of the law. Therefore, if you have a child and are no longer in a relationship with you child’s father and you were never married, then you must establish that the father’s paternity in order to establish his obligation to pay child support.

In order to establish paternity, you must file a petition with the court alleging paternity of the respondent and seek support for the child. The alleged father can file a counter-petition for timesharing (previously known as visitation).
If you choose not to establish paternity of the alleged father, then he does have the right to file a petition for determination of paternity so that he may establish his rights to the child. Once those rights are established, the obligation for support follows. Until either you or the father file for said establishment of paternity, the father has no legal recognition as the child’s father. However, if you ever seek assistance from the State of Florida, such as Medicaid, then the The State of Florida may require a petition for determination of paternity in order to protect the State from having to pay assistance for a child that another individual is obligated to support.

If you have a child outside of marriage and need to establish paternity, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about your options.

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