For most couples, having a child is one of the greatest enjoyments that couples will experience together. Unfortunately, many children are born out of wedlock. In Florida, the law establishes parental rights of the mother immediately. However, that is not the case for unmarried fathers.

Do Fathers Automatically Get Parental Rights?

When a married couple has a child, the husband automatically receives parental rights of the child. This holds true even if the wife gets pregnant by someone other than her husband. In the case of the unwed couple, however, the mother automatically gets parental rights, but not unmarried fathers. The court refers to the father as a ‘putative father’.

Putative Fathers

A putative father is a man who is allegedly the biological father of a child born out of wedlock.

How Does the Putative Father Gain Parental Rights?

For the putative father to have any parental rights to the child, he must prove paternity.  Florida statutes 63.054 created the establishment of a putative father registry with the Office of Vital Statistics.  The purpose of the registry is to allow a man claiming to be the unwed biological father of a child to have notice in the case the mother wishes to place the child up for adoption. The parents need to do this before the birth of the child.

Once the child is born, however, the putative father will have to file a Petition to Prove Paternity with the court.  This will allow the father to get a court-ordered DNA test to prove paternity.

After You Prove Paternity

Once you establish paternity, the court will work out a visitation plan between the parents. The courts assumes that both parents will have shared, equal custody – barring a different ruling by the family courts.  The court will also decide which parent will be responsible for paying the other child support.  Lastly, the mother will not be allowed to offer the child up for adoption as the father will have established rights to parent their child.

How The Court Determines Child Support

Child support is based on the best interest of the child.  The child is entitled to financial support from their parent until they reach an age of majority.  In Florida, the courts will utilize the Florida Child Support Guidelines to figure out what percentage of the financial obligation to the child each parent is responsible for.

In Conclusion

Family law issues are some of the most complex and emotional cases the courts deal with.  The court is charged with navigating family disputes while weighing the impact of the decisions it will make on the future of the minor children.  By hiring a lawyer, you are not only ensuring that your legal rights are protected but the rights of your child’s future. The attorneys at Valrico Law Group are experts in Florida Family Law cases and will assist you with professionalism and sensitivity to your case. Contact Valrico Law Group for a consultation.