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Why is establishing paternity so important? - II

Last time, our blog began examining paternity, a family law topic of considerable importance for parents and children alike, as it vests the former with a number of rights, and the latter with similar rights plus the added psychological benefit of knowing the identity of their legal father.

We also began examining how establishing paternity can prove to be a relatively easy or considerably difficult endeavor depending largely upon whether there is some dispute as to who the child's father is. We'll continue our discussion in today's post.

What if the parents are unmarried, there is no dispute as to paternity and the two later decide to marry?

Florida law dictates that if parents are unmarried at the time of birth, but later decide to tie the knot, the husband will automatically become the legal father. However, it's important to note that this won't result in the automatic addition of the legal father's name to the birth certificate.

In order to see this happen, the parents must file a document known as the Affirmation of Child(ren) Born in Florida (i.e., the DH-743A), or supply the clerk of court with a written statement under oath at the time they apply for a marriage license, which will initiate a slightly different process.

Either way, the result is the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics adding the father's name to the birth certificate.

What if the parents are unmarried, there is no dispute as to paternity but the two don't have any intention of marrying?

In this incredibly common scenario, the mother and father have the option of filling out the form known as the Acknowledgement of Paternity (i.e., DH-432) anytime up until the child's eighteenth birthday.

The DH-432 must be completed by both parents and signed in the presence of either a notary public or two witnesses. Once this is completed, it should be mailed to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, which will add the father's name to the birth certificate (provided the mother was not married at the time the child was born).  

What do parents gain from establishing paternity?

For a mother, the establishment of paternity means they are able to go to court to request a child support order, while for a father, it means they are given a voice in decisions relating to the child, the chance to spend time with the child and the chance to become a positive presence in the life of the child.

We'll conclude this discussion in our next post, examining how a child stands to gain from establishing paternity and the options available when there is some dispute as to paternity.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide answers and pursue solutions if you have questions about paternity or a related matter, such as child custody, child support or relocation.

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