Florida is known as a “Mother State” for reasons relating to how the state treats mothers compared to fathers, especially those in unwed parental situations. If you have questions about your parental rights or how to exercise them, contact a Brandon family lawyer as soon as possible.
What Rights Do I Have as an Unwed Parent?
Florida law recognizes a mother’s rights as the natural guardian of a child born outside of marriage. A guardian is a person who is given and entrusted with the custody and control of another person under the law. An unwed mother automatically acquires legal custody of the child she has given birth to. Simply stating you are the father of a child does not give you any official parental rights if you are unmarried.
Do I Have Visitation Rights as the Father of a Child?
Whether a father visits a child born outside of marriage (without establishing paternity) is generally up to the mother. There is no court order for this visitation, and a father cannot turn to the courts to enforce visitation rights. The mother might want to make reasonable restrictions when it comes to visitation, such as requiring that the visitation occurs at the mother’s home or at a public place with supervision.
Once a father establishes legal paternity, however, he can petition the court to issue a parenting time order that includes visitation. This is often accompanied by a child support order, as well. If you are a father trying to establish paternity to obtain visitation rights, you should always have the right attorney representing you during this process.
What If a Father Not Named on the Birth Certificate Tries to Take the Child?
If the court has not issued an order establishing paternity or the parents did not sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the natural mother is the only legal guardian of the child. The natural father cannot try to take the child away from the mother without first obtaining a court order. If he tries to do this without a court order, the father can be arrested and charged with kidnapping if the mother calls the police.
Who Pays Child Support for a Child Born Outside of Marriage?
Once paternity is established, whoever has physical custody of the child is generally the one who receives child support from the other parent. If it is the mother who has physical custody of the child, the mother must first file a paternity case to have the father named as the legal father to obtain a support order. If the father wants formal parental rights and establishes paternity, it might mean they will also be subject to ordered support.
Call a Brandon, FL Family Lawyer to File a Paternity Action
If you need help with establishing your rights as a father, or you need to file a paternity action to obtain court-ordered child support and visitation, an experienced Brandon family law attorney can help you. At Carman & Bevington, PA, we have successfully helped many clients with similar needs, and we can do the same for you. Contact us for a consultation today.