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Fathers’ Rights in Florida

Posted by LEISA WINTZ | Mar 08, 2022 | 0 Comments

Every father should have the right to spend time with their child or children. However, in Florida, fathers who are not married to their child(ren)'s mother do not automatically have these rights to be involved in their children's lives or make decisions for their children. In fact, even if a father does not have custody rights to his child in Florida, he may still be legally required to pay child support.

In this article, we will cover many important topics when it comes to paternity rights in Florida. From establishing paternity to relocation and what fathers' rights in Florida entail. Keep reading to learn more about paternity rights in Florida and how using an experienced paternity lawyer in Florida can be beneficial in achieving the paternity rights you are seeking.

Establishing Paternity

It is essential to understand that when a mom and a dad have a child together and are not married, the father does not automatically receive paternity rights in Florida – even if the father's name is listed on the child's birth certificate. Under Florida's “Natural Guardian Statute”, the mother is initially given all of the decision making and time-sharing rights regarding the child(ren). Even if a father has had long-term custody and decision-making arrangement with the child(ren)'s mother, but the mother decides to change this arrangement, legally, the father may not have any right to enforce the original agreement.

If the child(ren)'s father would also like equal input for the child(ren), he will need to file a “Petition for Paternity”. This can sometimes be confusing as most people assume DNA tests and genetics with establishing paternity. However, when petitioning for paternity in Florida, this is not necessarily the case and is about a person's legal relationship to the child. It is important to note that until a Petition for Paternity is filed, an unmarried father will not have legal parental rights to their child(ren). Once you have filed a Petition for Paternity, it is quite likely you will get substantial – if not equal – rights to the child(ren), similar to the mother in most instances. There can be exceptions to this as the Court can make adjustments to these rulings depending on what they determine is in the best interest of the child(ren).

Paternity Rights in Florida

Once a father has filed for paternity rights in Florida and has been granted full rights from the Court, the father will legally have input on parental responsibility, time-sharing with the child, communication with the child, and child support.

When it comes to relocating the child(ren), this will require either consent from both parents or a court order any time after an initial court order establishing the parents' time-sharing agreement of the child. This means if the parents have already gotten divorced or have been to court previously over custody, and either parent wishes to move more than fifty miles away from where they resided at the time of the last court order, they must abide by one of the following. The parent who wants to move must receive permission from the court or consent from the other parent in writing. The other parent's permission in writing is not enough, however, to legally move. The moving parent must also create a plan for how each parent will contact the child(ren) moving forward if the relocation occurs. Relocation can be a confusing and challenging part of custody law. We would highly recommend speaking to an experienced family law attorney if you are considering relocating your family after a divorce.

Working with the right paternity attorneys in Florida is vital to securing your future in your child's life – especially if you are an unmarried father. Contact Family Matters Law Group today for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation with us.

About the Author


Leisa Wintz originally began her career as a marriage and family therapist. Ms. Wintz went on to attend law school and started practicing family law in 2009. However, she quickly realized that many family law practices lacked the empathy and compassion she believed were necessary in order to achi...


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