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Establishing paternity can be a complicated process, one that carries significant financial and personal implications for both the mother and the alleged father. Whenever paternity is in question, it’s crucial to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney, like those of us at Bergermann Law Firm.

By consulting with us, you’ll gain a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities should paternity be established. We’re here to walk you through every step of the process, ensuring that you know what to expect and how to protect your interests.

Our legal team can also explore alternative methods for establishing paternity outside of a court order. This can sometimes simplify the process and reduce the emotional and financial strain on everyone involved. Additionally, if new evidence emerges indicating that the legal father might not be the biological father, we can assist in having a previous paternity order set aside. Our goal is to ensure that the correct information is recognized, and that justice is served in the best interest of the child and all parties involved.

As of July 1, 2023, Florida has enacted a new law known as Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity. This law represents a significant shift in how fathers’ rights are recognized when an unwed couple has a baby. As attorneys, we are excited to share how this law creates a more balanced approach to parenting for unwed parents.

Under this new law, there’s now a revised procedure for unwed fathers to establish paternity, child support, and visitation rights. This is a game-changer, allowing fathers to gain parental rights that were once predominantly held by the mother. Previously, unwed fathers faced challenges in defining their parenting rights. Now, once paternity is established, fathers enjoy full parental rights.

In the past, the mother of a child born out of wedlock was automatically considered the natural guardian. She had primary residential care and custody of the child unless a court ordered otherwise. Fathers had to first establish paternity before they could petition the court for parental responsibility and time sharing. This left many fathers without any recognized parental rights, even when both parents acknowledged his biological connection to the child. Shared parental responsibility would only be recognized following a court order.

The new law changes all that. Now, once paternity is established, fathers are immediately granted full parental rights. This streamlines the process and ensures that both parents have a more equal footing when it comes to their child’s care and upbringing.

Under this new statute, either parent can request a determination of parental responsibility and child support following the birth of their child. Additionally, the creation of a parenting plan and timesharing schedule is now part of the initial legal proceedings. This development alleviates the previously difficult process that unwed fathers had to navigate to secure their parental rights over a child born out of wedlock.

When establishing paternity, the court is now mandated to concurrently determine parental responsibility, formulate a parenting plan, establish a timesharing schedule, and issue an order for child support payments. This comprehensive approach ensures that the rights and responsibilities of both parents are addressed simultaneously, streamlining the legal process for prospective fathers.

Furthermore, the new law recognizes both unwed mothers and fathers as the natural guardians of a child born out of wedlock. This provision ensures that both parents share equal rights and responsibilities in raising their child, granting fathers equal parenting rights from the moment of the child’s birth.

Traditionally, the legal system tended to favor mothers in time sharing agreements, largely due to an inclination to maintain the status quo in a stable living environment for the child. Given that fathers previously needed to undertake a separate legal effort to establish their parental rights, the mother would often have already created a stable living environment with the child. Courts were understandably cautious about disrupting an arrangement that was functioning well for the child. The new law mitigates this issue by allowing fathers to establish a foundational relationship with their child from the outset, thereby creating their own status quo.

The Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity law represents a significant shift towards equitable parental rights in Florida. Now, unmarried fathers, with the mother’s consent, can establish paternity and actively participate in their child’s life. Once both parents sign the paperwork acknowledging paternity, they gain equal rights to primary custody. This means fathers can now have a say in crucial decisions regarding their child’s education, health care, religion, safety, and more, even as the noncustodial parent.

This new procedure ensures that both parents are equally involved in raising their child, promoting a more collaborative and balanced approach to parenting. If you have any questions or need guidance on how to navigate this new law, feel free to reach out to us at Bergermann Law Firm. We are here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities and to support you through every step of the process. Schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing how you can assert your parental rights immediately.


What is paternity?

Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of a man’s relationship to his child. Establishing paternity is essential for determining the father’s rights and responsibilities towards the child.

Why is establishing paternity important?
  • Establishing paternity ensures that the child benefits from having two legal parents. This includes access to financial support, inheritance rights, medical history, and benefits such as health insurance, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits.

How can paternity be established in Florida? Paternity can be established in several ways:
  • Voluntary Acknowledgment: Both parents sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form.
  • Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing: A genetic test ordered by the Florida Department of Revenue can establish paternity.
  • Court Order: Either parent can file a petition in court to establish paternity, which may involve genetic testing.
What is the new Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity law?

This law, effective July 1, 2023, allows unmarried fathers to establish paternity with the mother’s consent and gain equal rights to primary custody and decision-making regarding the child’s upbringing.

What happens once paternity is established?

Once paternity is established, the father has legal rights and responsibilities toward the child, including custody, visitation, and the obligation to provide financial support. The father can also have a say in important decisions about the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Yes, paternity can still be established through a court order. The court may require genetic testing to determine paternity.

What if the presumed father is not the biological father?

If new evidence shows that the presumed father is not the biological father, the court can set aside a previous paternity order. This often requires legal proceedings to present the new evidence and adjust the legal status accordingly.

How does establishing paternity affect child support?

Once paternity is established, the father is legally obligated to provide financial support for the child. The amount of child support is determined based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child.

Can paternity be established after the child turns 18?

Yes, paternity can be established at any time, even after the child turns 18. However, some legal rights and obligations, such as child support, may not apply once the child reaches adulthood.

How long does it take to establish paternity?

The time it takes to establish paternity can vary. Voluntary acknowledgment is immediate once the form is signed. Court proceedings can take several months, depending on the complexity of the case and whether genetic testing is required.

Where can I get help with establishing paternity?

If you need assistance with establishing paternity, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Our team at Bergermann Law Firm is here to help you navigate the process and understand your rights and responsibilities. If you have further questions or need personalized advice, feel free to contact us. We are here to provide the support and guidance you need.