All couples have children at different times in their lives. For some, having a baby even comes before getting married.
Some people also assume that after a child is born, visitation and child custody rights are automatically given to both parents in Florida. However, this isn’t the case. In fact, in the state of Florida, the law will only recognize the mother of the child as the legal custodian if the child happens to be born before the parents get married.
Even in situations where the child’s father’s name is listed on the birth certificate, it doesn’t mean they will be given automatic legal rights as a father. An unwed father may find it hard to accept the fact that they don’t have the same rights as the child’s mother when the baby is born. This is especially the case if they are unsure how to get the rights if a separation occurs.
Florida gives a child’s mother the right to deny or allow the father to have visitation rights if the two people aren’t married. In fact, when a couple is about to separate, denying the father visitation rights is a common action. However, even during breakups, the court may grant some visitation rights to the unwed father if they are able to establish their legal paternity.
Keep reading to learn more about fathers’ rights and how fathers can establish their rights in the state of Florida.
Establishing Paternity in Florida
Unlike a married father, unmarried fathers in the state of Florida will not be considered legal parents automatically when a child is born. In fact, unwed fathers must legally establish paternity to get these legal rights if they separate from the child’s mother.
One way to establish paternity is with voluntary acknowledgment. It’s necessary for both parents to sign and file the acknowledgment of the paternity form. However, if a dispute occurs, the father has another option.
Unmarried fathers can file the Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief if they are unable to establish paternity through the voluntary form. When the form is filled out, you can request that the court establishes paternity along with time-sharing agreements, as well as child support.
Sometimes, the court may also request that you undergo a DNA test, which is going to prove who the biological father of the child is. Once the court has established who the biological father is, the father can pursue visitation and custody rights. Establishing paternity alone does not give a father any rights to time-sharing with the child. The father must obtain an order from the Court setting forth a time-sharing schedule or Parenting Plan.
What Will Happen After You Establish Paternity?
Once you have established paternity, the court will create custody and time-sharing plans. At this point, the court will also calculate the child support payments. After paternity has been established, an unmarried couple will usually move forward just like couples that were formerly married. Each of the child’s parents will give their plans to the court, and then the court will make a ruling based on the best interest of the child after they have considered a few factors.
Let Our Legal Team Help You Establish Your Rights as a Father in Florida
If you have a child and are not married to the child’s mother, you do have rights. While this is true, it is necessary that you establish paternity first. This is going to be the first step in ensuring that you have a father’s rights, which include time-sharing and custody considerations.
Our Florida divorce lawyer at Griffin Family Law can help you with the legal rights you are dealing with and will ensure that you take the right steps to play the main role in your child’s life. Schedule a free consultation today.