Child custody laws are complicated. In Florida, the law has stipulations and considerations that must be made when determining if one or both parents are entitled to custody.
This makes the issue of a father’s legal rights to his children complicated and overwhelming. While true, Griffin Family Law, PLLC, is here to help. Florida mothers and fathers must know their rights and responsibilities, and this is possible with legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney. Parents can also learn what can and cannot be done in child custody and visitation situations.
Florida Child Custody Laws
In most states, parents are assigned legal and physical custody of children. Legal custody is assigned to the person who can make decisions for a child, including health care, religion, education, etc. Physical custody is the parent the child lives with. However, Florida has abandoned these “traditional” terms of child custody.
The custody laws in Florida are based on parental responsibility and time sharing. They encourage both parents to participate in their child’s lives actively. Courts prefer parents to create time-sharing and parenting plans that offer equal access to the child for both parents.
Parental responsibility is typically shared. This ensures each parent has a say in the important decisions in their children’s lives. Time-sharing refers to when the child is with each parent. Courts want to see each parent have equal time. While this is the goal, the schedule ultimately depends on the parent’s schedule.
If parents cannot agree on the parenting and time-sharing plan, the court can order one based on the child’s best interest. Even if parents agree to a plan, the court must review the plan to ensure the terms are in the best interest of the child or children.
Can a Mother Refuse Visitation for the Child’s Father?
When the parents of a child are unwed, and a father has not established paternity legally, they have no legal rights to visitation. In Florida, the mother of a child is made the natural guardian at birth.
While a father can request visitation, it is up to the mother if granted. If the mother is worried the father may not return the child after a visitation, they should proceed cautiously. Visitations should occur inside the mother’s home or somewhere with public supervision in these situations.
However, the mother does have the right to refuse visitation at this point.
How Can a Father Get Visitation Rights?
Florida provides several ways for fathers to get visitation rights.
For married couples, the father is automatically considered the biological father of a child born during the marriage. For unmarried fathers (called the putative fathers) not included on the birth certificate, submitting a petition to add their name to the child’s birth certificate is necessary. It is also required to establish paternity. The putative father has no rights to the child until the paternity test proves they are the biological father to the court.
To get visitation rights in Florida, the first step is to file a Petition to Determine Paternity. It establishes paternity and creates a time-sharing schedule or child support for minor children. This requires a court order and DNA test that shows the person is the child’s father.
Adoption and a Father’s Rights in Florida
Unmarried fathers should file with the Florida Putative Father Registry while the mother is pregnant. The purpose of the register is to provide fathers with notification and options if the mother decides to place the child up for adoption. The father can file a paternity claim before the child’s birth.
Establishing Visitation Rights after Proof of Paternity
A father can claim their rights once paternity is established. At this point, the mother can request child support and other benefits. The court will create a time-sharing agreement and parenting plan and determine parental responsibilities and child support.
All this will be issued with a court order, giving the mother and father equal access to the child. With the court order, it is also possible to have visitation orders enforced if one parent does not adhere to the instructions.
Establishing Rights to Visitation to Your Child in Florida
Some believe that Florida child custody and visitation laws are slanted in the mother’s favor. However, once a father proves paternity to the court, they have equal rights and access to the child (in most situations).
If you are working to prove paternity and get visitation rights, Griffin Family Law, PLLC, can help. The advice, guidance, and knowledge of an experienced Jacksonville family law attorney can be invaluable in these challenging and complex situations. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment.