Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Establishing Paternity


According to People.com, celebrity Nick Cannon confirmed that he is expecting his eighth child. This will be the fifth mother he will be fathering a child with. When parents are not married, the first issue that needs to be established is paternity.

In Florida, there are three main ways to establish paternity:

  • Being married to a child’s mother at the time of birth;
  • Through the courts; or
  • Acknowledging paternity.

When the mother of a child is unmarried, paternity must be established, either voluntarily or through a court order. A common misconception is that even if a father signs a child’s birth certificate, he will still need to establish paternity with the court if he and the child’s mother are unmarried.  If the alleged father and mother can agree that he is the father, they can sign what is called a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity.” When this document is signed, they are acknowledging that the man signing this form is the child’s legal father. This form then becomes final 60 days after it has been signed.

If the mother and alleged father do not agree and there is no voluntary acknowledgment, either the mother or the man who believes he is the father may proceed with establishing paternity in court. In Florida, only the following may start the court process:

  • The child’s mother;
  • The man who believes he is the father or who has been identified as the father;
  • The Florida Department of Child Support Services; or
  • The child through a legal representative.

Once you take your paternity action to court, the court may order a genetic test for the mother, child, and the putative father. Pursuant to Florida Statue, “in any proceeding to establish paternity, the court on its own motion may require the child, mother, and alleged fathers to submit to scientific tests that are generally acceptable within the scientific community to show a probability of paternity.” The court shall direct that the tests be conducted by a qualified technical laboratory. You may be asking, why should I establish paternity? Well, you’re likely not in the same financial situation as Nick Cannon and the mothers of his children. Another common misconception when it comes to paternity is that you don’t have to be married to your child’s father to collect child support. When a paternity matter is brought to court, the judge can make orders for child support and/or health insurance for the child. A judge can also make orders for non-financial issues such as parenting time and decision-making authority over the child.

You may believe that you and your child’s father get along well right now, but the truth of the matter is things change and what is most important is that you do what is best for your child. Establishing paternity, creating a parenting plan, or settling financial issues is important to situate while you and the father get along or before your situation gets too tough. Establishing paternity will help you, your child, and your child’s father have a happier and easier life.

If you or someone you know is seeking advice on paternity matters, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.