Fathers’ Rights In Florida

If you are an expectant father, you may assume that when you have a biological child with someone, you are automatically entitled to equal parental rights. However, in Florida, unless you are married at the time of the child’s birth, that is not the case. For unmarried fathers in Florida there are additional steps that must be taken in order to have any legal rights to a child, including visitation. This is true even if you are listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate. While this can be frustrating and a hassle, it is possible for unmarried fathers to obtain equal rights to their child. These rights come with responsibilities as well, including child support payments. A Florida family law lawyer can help you navigate this process and ensure that you complete all steps necessary to ensure that visitation, custody, and legal decision-making authority can be obtained. If you would like personalized information based on your specific circumstances, please schedule a consultation with the experienced family law attorneys at HAWM Law.

No Presumptive Rights for Unmarried Fathers

As noted above, in Florida, there are no presumptive rights for a child’s father unless the parents are married. This means that all the legal rights and decision-making authority belong to the mother in cases in which the parents are not married. For this reason, an unmarried mother has complete decision-making authority over custody and visitation. This can become complicated when the couple experiences a rough patch or if they decide to separate, as the mother may legally withhold visitation from the father. For many fathers, this is the first time they realize they do not have equal parental rights. However, in other circumstances, the realization can be far more jarring, like realizing you do not have authority to make emergency medical decisions for your child. In order to gain these rights, the father must legally establish paternity.

Our family law attorneys are focused on efficiently and effectively preparing clients for the most difficult circumstances. The attorneys at HAWM law have experience dealing with an array of family law matters and can prepare the necessary and often unique strategy and tools that your family may require.

Establishing Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity is for both parents to sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and submit it to the court. However, if the paternity is contested or the mother of the child is unwilling to sign the document, then you can petition the court to establish paternity. The court may require a DNA test to establish paternity. If paternity is confirmed, the court will also implement a time-sharing schedule and establish child support payments based on your income.

Making a Custody Agreement

After establishing paternity, the process of developing a custody agreement for both parents proceeds in much the same way that it would for a married couple who is divorcing. If you and your co-parent are able to mutually agree upon a custody agreement outside of court (for instance, with the help of a lawyer or lawyers) this will be the most time and cost-efficient means of arriving at a resolution. In this case, the agreement that you have mutually arrived at will simply be submitted to the court and reviewed for approval. Provided it is in the best interest of the child, it will likely be approved. However, if you and your co-parent are not able to come to an agreement amongst yourselves or with legal help, you can both submit a proposed custody agreement to the court. The judge will then decide on custody based on the best interest of the child, a standard which considers many factors.

Talk to an Orlando Family Law Attorney

If you are an unmarried father who wants to ensure that he has equal parental rights and visitation with his child, contact the experienced family law attorneys at HAWM Law and schedule a consultation today.

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