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Every child has a father, but not every child has a legal father. According to paternity law in Florida, paternity can be established in one of five ways. If the mother is married when her baby is born, the legal father of the child is her husband. If the mother is not married, paternity must be established in order to be legal.

The four additional methods for establishing paternity in Florida are:

Administrative order- If a genetic paternity test proves the paternity of a child, paternity is legally ordered.

Court order- A judge can order a couple to test paternity in order to legally prove paternity.

Legitimization- If a couple gets married after their child is born, they can have the child’s birth record updated to include
the paternity.

Why is Paternity so Important?

Paternity is important for a number of reasons. It benefits not only the child, but also the parent, as it gives them parental rights only offered to legal parents and guardians. For example, paternity gives both parents the right to seek a child support order, to obtain an order for visitation or custody, and to have a say in legal decisions regarding the child. There are also significant benefits for the child, including:

Information regarding his or her family medical history.
Health or life insurance, when available, from either parent.
Financial support from either parent such as child support or
medical support.
Financial benefits such as Social Security, veteran’s benefits,
inheritance, or military allowances.

Testing Paternity

When necessary, testing paternity can be accomplished through genetic tests. For the test to be legal, the mother, child, and believed father must all have their DNA tested at an approved laboratory. Paternity tests are conducted by lab workers who first carefully check the IDs of all three people, then take swabs of cells from the inside of each person’s cheek using a device similar to a large q-tip. The samples are then put into containers and sent to a genetic testing laboratory. The results of genetic testing are extremely reliable and can be used as evidence of paternity in court.

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