Will signing the birth certificate establish paternity?

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For a majority of people, having children out of wedlock is no longer something to frown upon. Instead, it is becoming a common occurrence across the United States, including here in Florida.

But while spending time with one's children may not be an issue when parents are in a happy, functioning relationship, this may not be the case if an unmarried couple separates. In fact, a break up can very easily lead to the question we're asking above:

Will signing the birth certificate establish paternity?

The answer here in Florida, unfortunately, is no. This is due to our state's statutes concerning the establishment of paternity for children born out of wedlock. Simply signing the birth certificate only sets up the presumption that you are the father, but not in a legal sense. This means that you are not legally considered the father and therefore do not have parental rights when it comes to visitation and timesharing.

How is paternity established?

Although marriage prior to the birth of a child establishes paternity, Florida law does give unmarried fathers a way to establish paternity and their parental rights. Under ยง742.10 of the Florida Statutes, a father may sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity, which acknowledges he is the child's father, giving him the responsibility to pay child support and the right to visitation.

DNA testing can also establish paternity, though this typically happens more often in contested paternity cases that require the intervention of the courts.

Is hiring a lawyer necessary?

While it's possible for unmarried parents to agree amicably to the signing of an affidavit acknowledging paternity, this isn't always the case, which is why many seek help from a skilled family law attorney. Unfortunately, even in amicable situations, unmarried fathers may still be unaware of their rights, which is why seeking help from a lawyer regarding a paternity issue is never a bad idea.

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