Fathers can be handy to have around, and for much more than opening jars. Florida acknowledges the emotional and practical support two parents can provide to a child. The state and its laws stand firmly on the side of the best interest of the child.

Two parents are almost always better than one in making decisions about raising, educating and attending to the health and other basic needs of a child. Often, the financial health of the household including access to healthcare and other needs is better with two adults involved.

The husband is the father, presumably

Florida is strongly committed to presuming that a married mother’s husband at the time she gives birth is the father. The state is not unaware of the biological alternatives, but Florida has decided that the baby’s best interest is served by this rule.

The boyfriend of a married Florida woman was recently allowed to even attempt to bring a paternity suit, but it took a highly unusual Florida Supreme Court ruling to make it happen.

With no husband, paternity gets interesting

When an unmarried woman gives birth, Florida law gets a bit more complicated. First, let’s say the unmarried mother and a man agree he is the father.

The two can acknowledge and swear under oath to the man’s paternity by signing the “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form. This is often done at the hospital or shortly thereafter, for example by domestic partners. After 60 days, the cement dries on this document, which can only be revoked by a court.

Now let’s say the unmarried mother and a man don’t agree he is the father. She may insist he is and he may insist he isn’t, or vice versa.

In such cases, the mother gets to make all the parenting decisions, including who gets to visit the child. That is, unless a court establishes paternity, often with the help of genetic testing. Either the mother or the alleged father can bring a paternity case to court, as can a legal representative of the child. For the purposes of enforcing child support, the state’s Child Support Services can also file.