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The Five Ways to Protect Your Parental Rights

The establishment of paternity is crucial for all parties involved. It protects the father’s right to custody and visitation, the right of either parent to child support, the child’s access to a full family medical history, and more. In Florida, there are a handful of ways one could have their role as the child’s father legally recognized.


If a child is born to a married couple, the husband is considered the father. The marriage alone is enough to acknowledge and protect the father’s parental role and rights.

Acknowledgement of Paternity

Unmarried couples may voluntarily acknowledge the father’s paternity by signing a legal document either at the hospital upon the birth of the child or at a later time in front of two witnesses or a notary. The document is legal and binding 60 days after signing the document.

This approach is not available if the mother was married to another man when she gave birth.

Court Order

A parent may opt to get the court involved to establish paternity. To do so, they must file a civil action, attend court, and obtain an order declaring who the father is.

If the couple agreed on the man’s paternity before the court date, they could sign a consent order before their appearance which will often be accepted as the final order.

If paternity is disputed, the judge may order genetic testing and use it, as well as other evidence, to decide whether to establish paternity.

Administrative Order

Couples may avoid a court appearance and establish paternity by taking a voluntary genetic test. To do so, the mother, father, and child must provide samples to their local Child Support Office. If the results confirm that the man is the child’s biological father, the office will provide an Administrative Order of Paternity to recognize his parentage.


Paternity can be established if a mother later marries the biological father of her child. While the man is seen as the legal father as soon as the marriage is official, the couple must take additional steps to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.

However you choose to establish paternity, Mitchell & West LLC can help you through the process. Reach out to our attorneys online or at (305) 783-3301 to get started.