Paternity Rights in Florida Adoption Proceedings
Paternity proceedings provide rights and benefits to a child’s mother, father, and the child as well. Some of these benefits include child support, birth certificate information, potential insurance benefits, medical history information, etc. They also protect important custody and visitation rights.
The Paternity Process
If the mother is married, the law assumes the father of the child is her husband (whether they were married at the time the child was born, or not).
If she is unmarried, paternity must be established. An unmarried biological father must file a notarized claim of paternity form with the Florida Putative Father Registry (“putative” describes the alleged father, or typically an unmarried biological father). This includes confirmation of the father’s willingness and intent to support the child in accordance with state law. The claim of paternity may be filed at any time before the child’s birth.
Any of the following can then officially establish paternity:
- Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form: Must be signed by both father and mother. Becomes final 60 days after being signed.
- Court order (in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides): Proceedings can be initiated by the man who identifies himself as the father, the mother, the child, or the Florida Department of Child Support Services. The court will order a genetic test for both of the parents and the child, and the judge may also order child support, visitation, and health insurance for the child, etc. The court may also make a determination of an appropriate parenting plan, including a time-sharing schedule.
- Administrative order based on genetic testing: Paternity is ordered if a genetic test proves fatherhood.
- Legitimation (marriage after child’s birth): The mother and father get married to each other after the child is born and update the birth record through the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics.
What about Father’s Rights in Adoption Proceedings?
Knowing your rights as a father during adoption proceedings and obtaining assistance from an experienced attorney are essential.
A man who:
- is married to the mother when the child was conceived or born;
- has established himself as the father by taking responsibility for the child;
- has been adjudicated by the court as the parent of the child;
- has filed an Affidavit of Paternity;
- is listed on the child’s birth certificate; or
- filed a paternity action
Is considered a legal parent in the state of Florida, and entitled to notice and an opportunity to assert a claim for the child.
Florida law favors fathers who have taken initiative in providing support for the mother and unborn child (state law considers all unmarried biological fathers to have automatically been placed on notice by virtue of engaging in sexual relations with a woman/the mother). If the unmarried biological father is serviced with a Notice of Intended Adoption Plan, he must respond to the court within 30 days with an affidavit affirming his commitment to taking responsibility for the child and child support, file a notarized claim of paternity with the Florida putative father registry, and provide support for the mother and child. Any unmarried biological father who has not complied with state law is deemed to have waived and surrendered his rights to the child, and any adoption can move forward without his consent.
Contact Us to Establish Your Parental Rights
If you have concerns about paternity, find out how Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. can help protect your parental rights and the best interests of your children. Contact our offices in Fort Lauderdale to schedule a consultation. We handle paternity matters on behalf of clients in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.