Just because you didn’t marry the mother of your child doesn’t mean you aren’t a loving father. It is more common than ever for people to have children without getting married first. Your lack of a wedding ring says nothing about your ability to be a good father.

However, with the law working the way it does in Florida, you still have to take certain extra steps to protect your rights as a father. Even if the mother of your child lists you on the birth certificate, you still need to establish paternity with the state if you ever need to assert your parental rights. 

What the paternity process involves

If the mother of your child supports your plan to establish paternity, the process could be relatively simple for your family. You can jointly fill out the necessary paperwork that establishes you are the father. The Paternity Acknowledgment form requires the signatures of both parents and submission to the state.

If she is uncooperative or you aren’t currently communicating, you may need to go through the courts. The Florida family courts can order genetic testing that can validate your claim to paternity.

Everyone benefits when you step up as the father

Establishing paternity can benefit everyone in the family unit. The mother of the child has the security that comes from knowing she can get child support if necessary and from having a legal connection to the father of her child.

The child will have a sense of where they come from and access to crucial family records that might provide them with insight into their own medical needs. They also benefit from having a relationship with you, which could require that you both establish paternity and then ask the courts for parenting time or visitation.

As the newly recognized legal father of your child, you have the opportunity to play a role in the life of your child, which will benefit both of you for the rest of your life. Whether the mother of your child intends to cooperate or not, the sooner you establish paternity, the sooner you can fulfill that role of father for your child.