Paternity Law - Unmarried Fathers Have no Rights in Florida!
You read that correct, unmarried Fathers have no rights to their children; At least not initially. In Florida, we do not use the word "custody" in our statutes or legal definitions. We instead have parental responsibility and timesharing, together these two things make up our concept of "custody". When a child is born to unmarried parents, the Mother is considered the "natural guardian" of the child and she has "sole parental responsibility" and all timesharing rights unless and until a father goes to Court and obtains an Order giving him rights to make decisions and see the child. MORE IMPORTANTLY, a father can have an Order requiring him to pay child support in place and STILL not have rights to see or make decisions for the child.
But, there is good news. Once a father files a Petition for Paternity and properly moves that case through our court process, many, if not most time, he will get nearly equal, equal or sometimes more rights to the child than the mother. The key to this is filing and properly moving the case through the system. You must be careful though, if you try to do this on your own or with an experienced attorney, and get results you do not like (which happens many times) it is very hard if not impossible to fix. This is an instance where you MUST do it right the first time.
It is also importna tto know that not having timeshairng rights through the Courts has a BIG impact on child support. You can read more about child support in FL here.
If you are seeking more information about filing a Petition for Paternity or your rights as a father, check out our video by our founding attorney Leisa M. Wintz, MS, Esq. Or get in touch with our office to schedule a free consultation by calling 954.800.0841.