Every child deserves two parents with all of the attendant rights and obligations of that legal designation. In the state of Florida, a mother gives birth and she’s recognized at once as the mother, the parent with sole legal rights over the child who was just born. Identifying the legal father, however, involves some paperwork.
If a couple is married when the child is conceived, the husband is the child’s legal father. If the couple marries after conception but before birth, the husband is the legal father. Nothing more to do, the hospital does the paperwork.
However, if the married mother chooses not to put her husband’s name on the birth certificate, a trip to court is imminent.
By voluntary acknowledgement
A baby born out of wedlock can leave the hospital shortly after birth with a legal father. All mother and father have to do is fill out and sign a Paternity Acknowledgement form (Form DH 5-11) in the presence of a notary public the hospital provides, and paternity is established.
After birth but before the minor reaches 18 years of age, unmarried parents can establish paternity by filling out and signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form (Form DH-432) before two witnesses or a notary public. The completed form must be mailed to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics where the birth certificate will be updated with the legal father’s name.
If the baby was born out of wedlock and the parents later marry, the husband becomes the legal father, but the birth certificate is not automatically changed.
To get that done, the parents, when applying for their marriage license, must either provide a written statement under oath or complete the Affirmation of Common Child(ren) Born in Florida form (Form DH-743A).
The Clerk of Court will forward the documentation to the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the birth certificate will be updated.
By court order or administrative order
Sometimes acknowledgment of paternity is not rendered voluntarily. A paternity action must be filed.
A judge will review the evidence and may require genetic testing. Then, satisfied with the results at hand, he issues an order establishing paternity.
Court fees and the cost of genetic tests, however, can be sidestepped at the Florida Department of Revenue, where the genetic tests available are just as reliable. An Administrative Order of Paternity will be issued, and the job is done.
Different processes for different situations. If any clarification is needed or there are other concerns to sort out, it can be helpful to consult with an attorney experienced in this area of the law.