Under Florida Statute 744.301 a Mother of a child born out of wedlock (unmarried) is the natural guardian of the child. As such, she has ALL of the rights to that child. NOTHING changes this as a fact for unmarried dads EXCEPT filing a Petition for Paternity and requesting that the Court grants you Parental Responsibility (decision making rights) and Timesharing ("custody"). The name of the Petition - Petition for Paternity - is confusing. It leads dad's - and moms - to believe that it is related to DNA testing or who the biological dad is. This is not an accurate understanding - we simply call "custody" actions for unmarried couples "paternity actions".
So for dads in Broward County (Plantation, Davie, Fort Lauderdale) and all of Florida for that matter you MUST file a Paternity Action to gets rights to your child.
There are many reasons to file this action, and you should file it even if you and the child's mother get along and co-parent well together. A few of the reasons to file are:
- It gives both parents the right to be involved in major decision making, such as education, healthcare, travel, etc.
- It sets timesharing on a schedule and takes kids out of the middle of disputes.
- It allows for child support to be modified to reflect how much time your child spend at your home.
- It protects your child's inheritance and social security rights.
- It can be done rather inexpensively and painlessly if everyone is cooperative.
Solaris Law Group, P.A. handles paternity cases frequently and is knowledgeable in the many aspects of these cases. We offer free consultations and urge ANY dad who is not married to the child's mother to contact us for free and explore their options to protecting their rights!