You and your boyfriend had a child, but are no longer together. You likely want him to pitch in with child support to help you raise that child. However, what if he never legally established paternity?

When Florida couples have children outside of marriage, there are ways for them to legally name the man as the child’s father. They can both sign an acknowledgement of paternity, which is a sworn statement that the man is the child’s biological father. As long as neither partner seeks to revoke the document within 60 days, it becomes binding. Revocation requires proof that it was signed under extreme duress or fraudulent circumstances.

If a man hasn’t signed a voluntary acknowledgment of his paternity, a mother can ask a court to establish it. The court will then order genetic testing for the child, the mother and the man who’s been named as the father. Mothers can take this legal action even before a child is born if a man hasn’t acknowledged paternity. However, the final hearing on the matter can’t occur until the child has been born.

Establishing a child’s paternity can be a difficult and emotional process for a woman — particularly if the man she believes or knows to be her child’s father is reluctant to acknowledge it. If you want to establish your child’s paternity, whether for child support purposes or simply because you believe it’s in your child’s best interests to know who his or her father is, an experienced Florida family law attorney can explain what’s involved in the process and help you as you move through it.