In Florida, where the parents of a child were never married, either parent may obtain an Order for custody/timesharing and child support by seeking and obtaining an order establishing the paternity of the child.

If paternity is not contested, the parents may enter into a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. This will constitute a legal determination of paternity just as if the Court entered an Order of paternity.

Once paternity has been established, the Court can order child support, custody/time sharing, health insurance and reimbursement the children’s expenses. Without establishing paternity, however, a Court is unable to make decisions regarding these issues. For example, if one parent needs child support and the other will not pay, the Court cannot order child support until paternity has been established.

An Order of Paternity entitles the children to certain additional benefits which include:

• The right to inherit from either parent.
• Legal documentation identifying both parents.
• Health or life insurance from either parent, if available.
• The right to receive Social Security. This includes veteran’s benefits and military allowances on the work record of a parent, if available.
• The names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate.

Establishing paternity can be tough, especially when paternity is unknown or disputed. If you live in the Tampa Bay Area and need assistance with a paternity case, please contact Tampa Divorce Firm to speak with an experienced Florida family lawyer.