How is paternity established for child support purposes in Florida?

Establishing Paternity in Florida

In the state of Florida, establishing paternity is a crucial step for determining child support obligations. Paternity is the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child, and it carries with it both rights and responsibilities. Paternity can be established in several ways, which we will explore to ensure that parents understand their options and the implications for child support.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

The simplest way to establish paternity in Florida is by both parents signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This form is often completed at the hospital immediately following the birth of the child but can also be completed at a later date. Once signed, this document is legally binding and acknowledges that the man is the legal father, thus establishing his responsibility for child support.

Administrative Order Based on Genetic Testing

If there is doubt regarding paternity, either parent can request genetic testing through the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Program. When a genetic test confirms paternity with a certainty of 95% or higher, an Administrative Order Establishing Paternity can be issued. This order serves as evidence of paternity for child support purposes.

Court Order

In some cases, matters of paternity may be settled through court proceedings. This typically occurs when either parent disputes paternity or when other factors complicate voluntary acknowledgment. A judge may order genetic testing and, based on the results, issue an order establishing paternity. Once paternity is established by a court order, child support obligations can be determined and enforced.


Paternity can also be established through marriage if the parents marry after the birth of their child and update the birth record through legitimation. In Florida, this process involves both parents signing an affidavit attesting to their marriage and their desire to legitimize their child's birth record.

Implications for Child Support

Establishing paternity is directly linked to child support because it creates a legal relationship between the father and the child. A man deemed to be the legal father is obligated to provide financial support for his child. In Florida, child support amounts are calculated based on both parents' incomes, daycare costs, health insurance expenses, the child's medical needs, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

Historical References

Historically, establishing paternity has been a complex issue. Prior to DNA testing technology, many states relied on presumption laws or less accurate blood tests to determine paternity. For instance, in Florida before the 1980s, it was much more challenging to establish paternity without clear evidence or admission from the presumed father. The advent of genetic testing provided a scientific method to conclusively determine biological relationships, leading to more accurate and fair outcomes in child support cases.