Standing to Initiate a Paternity Action
A child born to unwed parents has the right to initiate a paternity action if paternity has not been established by the father’s marriage to the mother, a prior paternity action, and/or the father’s acknowledgment of paternity. See Fla. Stat. § 742.011
A child born outside of a marriage is automatically deemed to be the lineal descendant of his or her biological mother and has inheritance rights in the estate of his or her biological mother. On the other hand, a child will only be considered the lineal descendant of his or her biological father and can only inherit from the estate of his or her biological father if:
- The child’s parents participated in a marriage ceremony before or after the birth of the child;
- The paternity of the child is established by an adjudication before or after the death of the father; or,
- The paternity of the child is acknowledged in writing by the father.
The adjudication of a child’s right as an heir of his or her biological father’s estate can, therefore, be indirectly obtained through the initiation of a paternity proceeding.
Support From the Father’s Estate
In Florida, the lineal heirs of a decedent, whom the decedent was supporting and/or was obligated to support, are entitled to receive up to $18,000 from the estate for maintenance during the administration of the estate (hereafter referred to as “family allowance”). A child born outside of marriage, however, will be prevented from seeking support from the estate of his or her biological father in the event that the biological father of the child dies prior to there being an adjudication of paternity. Paternity of the minor child must be adjudicated during the biological father’s lifetime in order for the minor child to receive any support from his or her father’s estate.
Section 768.18(1) includes a child born outside of marriage in the list of survivors who have a right to recover for a father’s wrongful death; however, the child may only assert the right to recover for the father’s wrongful death if: (i) the father was aware that the child was his; (ii) the father contributed to the support of the child while he was alive; and, (iii) the child was dependent on the father’s support.