Five Reasons For Unmarried Fathers to Establish Paternity

Five Reasons For Unmarried Fathers to Establish Paternity

Becoming a father is immensely rewarding. While your new son or daughter will make huge demands on your time and energy, you wouldn’t have it any other way. As comedian Mike Myers once put it, “Anyone who tells you fatherhood is the greatest thing that can happen to you, they are understating it.”

However, if you are not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, it presents some complications for your legal relationship with the new baby. In Florida, married men are automatically regarded as the legal father of any children born during the marriage. If you only live with the mother, you are known as a putative father, without any legal rights to the child, until you establish paternity.

A step to establish paternity is for you and your partner to complete and sign the Paternity Acknowledgment form in the hospital. In some cases, though, this is not an option. You may be temporarily separated from your partner at the time of the birth, there may be a legitimate question about the child’s paternity, or the mother refuses to sign the form for her reasons. There are other necessary steps to complete. 

Under Florida law, you can bridge that gap by filing a Petition to Determine Paternity. This petition will legally establish you as the father of your child in addition to setting a timesharing schedule and addressing support if you have separated from the other parent. You may have to undergo a DNA test, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you are indeed the father and have a legal as well as an emotional connection to your child.

If you are an unmarried father, here are five reasons why you should legally establish the paternity of your child or children.

1. You can establish timesharing with your children
When you legally affirm your paternity, you can establish timesharing rights for you and the children, if you and your partner end your relationship. The timesharing schedule should always be in the best interests of the children involved.

2. The child is entitled to certain benefits
Your new baby is entitled to inherit from you (even if you pass without a will) and receive derivative benefits like Social Security, health insurance, and life insurance. He or she will also benefit from the establishment of child support if you separate from the mother while the child is still a minor.

3. You are entitled to information about the child
You have the right to be notified about any legal proceedings that the child may be involved in. You will also have access to your child’s school records, medical information, and other importation documentation regarding their education and healthcare.

4. The child’s medical information and history is comprehensive
Knowing your medical history makes it easier for your child’s doctors to test or treat him or her for any inherited conditions. If a blood transfusion or organ transplant ever becomes necessary, having your details can make it easier to source a donor.

5. You are a participant in a child’s life
When you establish paternity, your child enjoys one of the most important things that life has to offer: a healthy and loving parent-child relationship. Studies have shown that men who are an active presence in their children’s lives have a positive effect on a child’s emotional and mental well-being. Children need to have healthy parent-child relationships.

At the Law Office of Sheena Benjamin-Wise, P.A., it is our privilege to help Florida fathers enjoy a legal as well as emotional bond with their children. For more information on how a family lawyer can assist you in protecting and enforcing your rights as a parent, please contact us at wiselawoffice.com.