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What You Need to Know About Establishing or Disestablishing Paternity in Florida


Determining paternity establishes a father’s legal obligations or non-obligations to a child as well as to the mother.

Paternity can establish or disestablish a father’s rights in regards to the child. This can include time-sharing and child support.

When a child is born to a married mother in Florida, it’s assumed the husband is the child’s legal father. This would be the case even if the husband is not the biological father.

In cases where the mother is unmarried, the father would be considered the biological father, but not the legal father. Paternity would be established:

  • Voluntarily with a signed acknowledgment of paternity
  • Through a petition to the court—commonly referred to as a paternity action

If a mother alleges a person is the father of the child, the father can petition the court to disestablish paternity. In cases like this, a DNA test can be requested.

Determination of paternity can have an enormous and lasting effect on the father, mother, and child. That’s why it’s important to seek the guidance of a Family Law Attorney to understand your options regarding establishing or disestablishing paternity.

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Your Guide to Paternity in Florida

Who Can Begin a Paternity Action in Court

If a voluntary acknowledgment establishing paternity is not signed then the following parties can initiate paternity action:

  • The mother of the child
  • The alleged father
  • A legal representative acting on behalf of the child
  • The Florida Department of Revenue

Time-Sharing and Custody Issues Regarding Paternity in Florida

Many fathers do not realize they actually have rights that can be protected when it comes to custody, or as Florida calls it “time-sharing”.

In the past, mothers had a significant advantage in receiving majority time-sharing. Florida courts now presume a 50/50 time-sharing schedule between mother and the legal father.

These parenting plans and time-sharing agreements can be argued in favor of one party over the other for a variety of reasons defined in the Florida Statutes as what is in the “best interests of the child”.

Also, time-sharing agreements, commonly referred to as parenting plans, can be heavily negotiated before even entering the courtroom for a final resolution in front of a judge.

It’s important to have a strong negotiator in your corner to help steer you in the best position for you and your child.

Establishing Child Support in Florida Paternity Cases

Child support can be a tricky issue in a paternity action.

Needs and the ability to meet those child support obligations can change at the occurrence of almost any event in life (i.e. employment change, a sudden disability, etc.).

Child support is mostly determined by statute factoring:

  • Amount of overnights a parent has with the minor child
  • Payments made for the child’s health care, daycare, or in some cases, long-distance travel, if the parent has an approved relocation with the court

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