Paternity cases are legal actions to establish rights to a child when the parents were not married. Here are some frequently asked questions about Florida paternity actions, answered by a child custody attorney. 

Why should a person file a paternity case at court?

Paternity actions can be used to establish legal rights to a child. This includes the right to timesharing, child support, and the right to make decisions concerning the child. Also, paternity actions can establish a legally recognized lineage, and thereby create the right to inherit property upon the death of a father, or establish a right to claim certain governmental benefits in times of need.

If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, does that legally establish paternity?

No. In Florida, a paternity action is needed to gain recognition as the child’s legal father even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate. Get in touch with a child custody attorney to discuss your case. 

What is the distinction between a biological father and a legal father?

When confirmed as the biological father of a child, a judge can find that the biological father is the legal father. A legal father has legal rights to the child in the form of timesharing, access to information concerning the child, and decision-making concerning the child. Without such a finding, a biological father will have no legal rights to enforce or protect.

Who can file a paternity action?

A paternity action may be filed by a man who believes he has legal rights to a child to establish himself as the child’s legal father. It may also be filed by a mother who wishes to establish a right to child support.

Is there a statute of limitations on filing for paternity actions?

Yes. In Florida, the time limit to determine a child’s paternity is four years after the child reaches the age of majority. The age of majority in Florida is 18 years old. However, it is recommended that paternity issues be resolved as early as possible to allow the child to develop a strong relationship with both parents.


If you have questions about your potential paternity action, we would be happy to provide the answers. Give us a call at (850) 613-6923 or contact us today to discuss your rights.