How to Establish Paternity in Tampa, FL

A father with his child
We understand that establishing paternity can be hard and at times confusing, especially when there are many parties involved. Whether you’ve been served a Notice of Proceeding to Establish Paternity or simply want to know the paternity of your child, there are steps you can take to make the process easier on everyone. We’ve gathered a detailed list to clarify the different ways you can establish paternity in Tampa, FL.

Something to note is the fact that paternity and biological fatherhood are not the same things. Understanding that paternity is not the same as being a biological father is just the first step. Paternity is the legal term to indicate the quality or state of being a father. A biological father is legally defined as the person who provided the genetic material the child inherited, either as a result of natural conception or sperm donation.

Until the biological father establishes his paternity, he has no rights and/or obligations to the child. A father who is married to the child’s mother when the child is born does not have to do anything to prove paternity.
To obtain paternity rights to visitation/custody/time-sharing and other parental privileges you must first establish your paternity. Here are three different ways you can establish paternity:

1. Acknowledgment of Paternity

After the birth of a child, the unwed mother and father sign an acknowledgment of paternity. If both parents sign before they leave the hospital, they’ll fill out the Paternity Acknowledgement form DH-511. For unmarried parents, signing this legal document should be done if you’re certain you are the biological parent.

If it is completed after the family leaves the hospital, the parents need to use a document called the Acknowledgement of Paternity form DH-432. Signing this document establishes paternity only and does not establish or set forth your time-sharing or other parental privileges

If you know you are not the biological parent or have doubts about your paternity, you should not sign any documents until after you’ve taken a paternity test.

2. Paternity Order

An Administrative Paternity Order is an order issued by the Florida Department of Revenue that is based on a genetic test and does not require going to court. The mother, child, and potential father take a paternity test, and if the results prove paternity, an order is issued. This order does not establish or set forth your time-sharing or other parental privileges.

3. Court Ordered Paternity Test

A Judicial Paternity Order is when paternity is established by a circuit court judge who issues a court order. If paternity has already been established through Acknowledgment of Paternity or an Administrative Paternity Order, the circuit court judge can hear and make decisions on time-sharing, relocation of the child, and other parental privileges through a Judicial Order in a circuit court.

If you’re unsure about the paternity of your child, the first step you should take is to contact a family law attorney. A lawyer can assist you with filing a petition in circuit court to establish paternity, if necessary, and establish parental rights and obligations.

LaFrance Law is experienced and skilled at handling paternity issues, child support, time-sharing, and custody issues. Contact us to protect and assert your parental rights or any other paternity and family law issues.