Becoming a father is equal parts exhilarating and frightening. You have someone in your life with whom you will always have a connection no matter what happens. You also suddenly have the opportunity to help shape a new life into a happy and healthy adult.
In addition to those rights, you also have legal responsibilities to your child, including the responsibility to provide for them. If you are not the spouse of your child’s mother, your rights as a father are not automatic. You have to establish paternity, first.
Do you have to perform a genetic test to prove you are the dad?
You and the mother can cooperate to bypass the testing
At the time of birth, you and the mother of your child can fill out the Paternity Acknowledgment at the hospital. Once you sign the form and present it to the hospital employees, you are officially the father of the child. Your name will appear on the birth certificate as recorded by the state, as well.
However, if you don’t sign something right after the birth of your child, you do still have other options. You can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form with the mother any time before your child turns 18 years of age. Provided that you both sign the document and then submit it to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics, the state can add your name to your child’s birth certificate without any court hearings or genetic testing.
Understanding the steps you need to take to establish paternity officially in Florida will help you be a more present and responsible father.