Florida Paternity Rights in Marriage & Divorce
Paternity rights can be an important element of a child’s (and family’s) life, and help ensure that not only will the child receive the financial support needed in order to succeed, but also have access to certain benefits and information that could be helpful for the sake of their health and future.
While the law assumes that, when a couple is married, the mother’s husband is the father of the child, things can become more complicated when it comes to children born out of wedlock.
Paternity Law in Florida
Under Florida law, 1) any woman who is pregnant or has a child, 2) the man who believes he is the father of a child, or 3) the child may initiate court action to determine the paternity of the child; particularly, when the paternity has not been established by the law or any other means. Specifically, in order to preserve the right to notice and consent to the adoption of the child, the unmarried biological father must file a notarized claim of paternity form with the Putative Father Registry that deems him the “registrant” and confirms his willingness and intent to support the child. This claim may be filed before the child’s birth, but not after any petition for termination of parental rights has been filed.
In addition, there are procedures for the determination of paternity for children born out of wedlock, such as:
- Paternity determined within an adjudicatory hearing brought under the statutes governing inheritance, dependency under workers’ compensation, or similar programs;
- An affidavit acknowledging paternity or a stipulation of paternity (as executed by both parties);
- An adjudication by the Department of Revenue; or
- Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
The Law and “Fatherhood”
However, if a child is born to a woman who is married to someone other than the biological father, the biological father of the child may have very few rights. In this sense, the law often distinguishes paternity from legitimacy, in effect sharing or transferring the duties of fatherhood without affecting the child’s legitimacy. If, during divorce, parents stipulate that the husband is not the father of a child (whether the child has been born or is still unborn), that husband may still have to participate in a termination of parental rights precisely because parental rights—as assigned by marriage—are so strong and would otherwise continue.
In other words, a prospective father may automatically be regarded as the child’s parent if he was married to the mother at the probable time of conception, if he was cohabiting with the mother at the time of conception, or if the mother has received support payments with respect to the child.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Family court matters are not only incredibly important, but they can also be incredibly contentious, and place your family’s well-being in jeopardy. If you are dealing with paternity issues during marriage or divorce—or any other family law issue—contact one of our family law attorneys today for assistance. At HD Law Partners, our Florida attorneys are prepared to help you immediately.