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Can a Florida mother refuse to acknowledge her child’s father?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | Paternity

Some men have a far easier time than others remaining actively involved in the lives of their children. Fathers married to the mother of their children automatically have parental rights much in line with the rights that the mother has after giving birth. On the other hand, unmarried men may have to take extra steps when they want to play an active role in the lives of their children. Some fathers can fill out paternity paperwork with the mother of their child at the hospital right after the birth, but not every mother is cooperative.

She may not want to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment at the hospital. If the father approaches her later, she may refuse to fill out an Acknowledgment of Paternity to submit to the state to add his name to the birth certificate. Will a mother’s refusal prevent a father from asserting his rights and developing his relationship with the child?

The Florida family courts can help

Although it is usually best for the parents to cooperate with one another, sometimes it is not possible to work cooperatively for paternity establishment. The mother may have personal reasons for wanting to deny her relationship with the child’s father or leave the paternity of a child unclear. While the mother of a child does have the right to refuse to execute voluntary acknowledgment paperwork, the father has other options. The Florida family courts can potentially order paternity testing. Both the mother and the child, as well as the father seeking to establish paternity, would need to undergo genetic testing.

Modern testing is non-invasive and very highly accurate. The parents and the courts can therefore trust the results of the genetic test. Typically, if the man has enough certainty that he is the father of the child to take the matter to court and request genetic testing, the mother will not be in a position to decline testing simply because she is averse to the idea of the father proving paternity.

It is only after establishing paternity that a father can then ask for visitation or timesharing rights, as well as a say in the key decisions about a child’s upbringing. Understanding that fathers have the right to establish paternity may help unmarried fathers in Florida make informed decisions about their options.