Bill Changes How Paternity Works in Florida


The passing of CS/SB 1416 earlier this year had a significant impact on family law cases in Florida. We’ve talked before about how timesharing laws and alimony guidelines were updated, but they’re not all that’s changed. How the state handles paternity has also experienced some significant changes to how it used to work. This may have a more positive and immediate impact on families than the previous two, considering these paternity changes should not greatly affect previous agreements. 

If you’re looking for more information on how this may affect you, the family law attorneys at C. Alvarez Law can explain.

What is the Legal Definition of Paternity?

Paternity is a legal term that refers to the establishment or acknowledgment of a paternal relationship between a man and a child, or children. Marriage usually establishes paternity between a man and a child, but not everyone marries before they have children. Sometimes, the husband is not the biological father or is a stepfather. In all of these instances, if a man wants to gain paternity rights, they need to prove paternity.

This is most commonly proved through biological proof, such as DNA testing, or through legal means, such as the signing of an affidavit of acknowledgment of paternity. 

What Rights Does Established Paternity Mean?

In a legal context, once paternity is established, the father has rights and responsibilities related to the child, including: 

  • Custody
  • Visitation 
  • Child support 

It also provides the child with certain rights, including inheritance rights and the right to receive benefits on the father’s behalf, such as social security or veteran’s benefits.

What Has the New Bill Changed?

The changes help streamline the legal process for establishing paternity and add additional rights to those with established paternity.

Establishing Paternity

Now, paternity can be established automatically through the execution of a notarized voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This means that Fathers don’t have to go through the process of proving a DNA connection.  Essentially it is much easier now to have your paternity established. 

There are still instances where it can be denied, such as if one parent rescinds the acknowledgment within 60 days or challenges its validity, but these are only under specific circumstances. The specific circumstances include any time someone challenges paternity, such as another man seeking to establish paternity, or a parent refusing to give up paternity rights if someone else attempts to adopt their child.

Additional Paternity Rights

Now, once paternity is established, fathers have the same rights and responsibilities as mothers. Originally, legal guardianship of a child born to unmarried parents always defaulted to the mother. Establishing paternity gave the father the ability to seek timesharing with their child. Now, the mother and father are on equal footing with regard to timesharing if paternity has been established.

What Hasn’t Changed?

Right now, if paternity has not been established, a father still cannot seek legal rights or be held responsible for a child.

Contact C. Alvarez Law For Help and More Information

These changes have been around for a month, but people are still understandably confused about how it affects them and where they stand. That’s where the family law attorneys at C. Alvarez come in.

If you’re an unmarried couple with children, you can establish legal rights to protect your family dynamic. Instead of struggling on your own, you can get help from our attorneys to establish your paternity rights and receive all the benefits that come with it. Contact us today for more help and information.

The following two tabs change content below.

C. Alvarez Law

C. Alvarez Law is a Central Florida-based law firm that helps families find resolutions to their most complex family law issues. We are dedicated to providing the support and advice you need for a positive outcome and a better life. Before you can move on with your life, you need closure. Our firm is diverse, energetic, and passionate about delivering this for the clients who have placed their trust in us. Let’s work together today to find a better tomorrow.

Latest posts by C. Alvarez Law (see all)