There are a lot of misconceptions about paternity in Florida! Here are some commonly forgotten facts about paternity in Florida:
- When a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the natural guardian of the child and a father has no rights to the child, including visitation, until a paternity order is entered.
- A child born to a married couple, is presumed to the child of the married couple, regardless if the father is the biological father of the child or not.
- A father who does not file with the Putative Father Registry prior to a termination of parental rights proceeding, may potentially lose any right to claim paternity if they do not file the necessary information within 30 days of being served with notice of the hearing.
- If a father is not the biological parent, but nevertheless agrees to be named as the father on the birth certificate, he is going to likely be adjudicated as the father by the court, absent a showing of fraud, duress, or material mistake in fact.
- Even if a father is listed on the birth certificate, the presumption of paternity is still rebuttable for up to 60 days, unless a showing of fraud, duress, or a material mistake in fact.
The Florida Putative Father Registry – What Is it?
Submitting an application to the Florida Putative Father Registry is the first step necessary for establishing paternity with the courts. By filing an application to the Putative Father Registry, you are preserving your right to be noticed and to consent to an adoption that results from the relations. In addition, the filing of such an application for a claim of paternity confirms a willingness and intent to support the child for whom paternity is claimed.
The Florida Putative Father Registry is maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health. If you are not married to the woman you have relations with, and believe there is a chance that she may become pregnant from your relations, it is important that you complete an application and submit it to the Florida Putative Father Registry. The application can be found here. The records to the Florida Putative Father Registry are private and are given limited public access.
When Must You File with The Putative Father Registry?
A claim, or application for paternity must be filed with Putative Father Registry prior to a proceeding for the termination of parental rights. However, there is an exception to this requirement if (1) the mother identifies the father to the adoption entity as a potential biological father by the date she executes a consent for adoption; and (2) the father is served with a notice of the intended adoption plan, and he is able to respond within 30-days, and fulfills the necessary requirements.
Other Methods of Acknowledging Paternity
There are a few other methods for establishing paternity under the Florida Statutes. Some of which include:
- If the establishment of paternity has been raised and determined within an adjudicatory hearing brought under the statutes governing inheritance, or dependency under workers’ compensation or similar compensation programs
- A signed affidavit, or stipulation executed by both parties acknowledging paternity, that is filed with the court
- An affidavit, notarized voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, or a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity that is witnessed by two individuals and signed under penalty of perjury is executed by both parties. Court’s will typically find that a birth certificate meets the requirements of a voluntary acknowledgement.
- If paternity is adjudicated by the Department of Revenue.
What Should You Do?
We hope this post has cleared up a lot of questions you may have about the paternity process in Florida. If you are reading this post and feeling like there is a chance you may be the father of a child, but are worried that there is no hope for you to establish paternity, do not lose faith.
We recommend reaching out to an experienced family law attorney if you believe that you may be the father of a child and have not been adjudicated so by the courts, or do not possess any signed acknowledgment of such.
Paternity in Florida 101
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If you are looking for a Tampa family law attorney, look to Anton Garcia Law, a 2021 SuperLawyer “Best Attorney” award winner. Our office is located near beautiful downtown Tampa, where we proudly serve clients from around the state of Florida.