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What Are the Rights of an Unmarried Father in Florida?

Legally speaking, there are “putative” and “biological” fathers. A putative father is someone who is presumed to be the father of an illegitimate child (i.e. offspring of unmarried parents). A biological father is one whose genes have been transmitted to the child, as opposed to adopting the minor.

Establishing Paternity

An unmarried father with offspring, known as a “putative father,” does not have any rights to an unborn child under Florida law. He must first prove to the family law courts that he is the biological father of the child or children. This is done through a petition to the court seeking relief and requesting it establish paternity.

During the pregnancy, however, the putative father has the opportunity to file with a registry of biological fathers known as the Florida Putative Father Registry. If the mother decides to place the baby up for adoption, the putative father will be contacted and informed of his rights and options regarding the child under state law.

In order to establish paternity if the parents are unmarried, a biological father must first file a petition. Then, once the mother is served the court papers she has 20 days to file a response with the court that either admits or denies the man is the father. The court will then order a DNA examination. If the test results establish paternity, a court will then:

  • Create a parenting plan;
  • Determine a time-sharing arrangement; and
  • Rule on other issues such as child support, health insurance and parental responsibility.

Florida Law

The court will analyze the factors expressed in Florida Statute 61.13 when determining what time sharing arrangement is appropriate. Commonly known as child custody in other parts of the country, time sharing refers to the time during which the child or children spends with each parent.

The measuring stick a Florida judge must use when deciding this issue is the “best interest of the child.”

Factors to consider include capacity and willingness of each parent to encourage and help ensure a close and continuing parent-child relationship, intent and ability to honor the time sharing schedule, and reasonableness when changes are necessary. The court will also look at whether there has been a history of refusal to honor time sharing arrangements in the past, the cooperativeness between the parties, and the willingness to allow the other parent access to the child or children. Beyond this, Florida courts will look at other variables including the parents’ work schedules, the overall ability to perform parental duties, and how much responsibility a parent will delegate to a third party. There are an additional 18 factors set forth in Florida law that help a judge determine and establish an appropriate parenting plan.

Orlando Child Time Sharing Attorney

If your or someone you know believes he is the father of a child and would like to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under Florida law, the seasoned Orlando child time sharing attorney Steve Marsee can assist you with your case. Serving the families of the greater Orlando area and throughout the state of Florida for several years, he can help you protect your rights as a father. Do not hesitate. Contact the firm today online or by calling (407) 521- 7171.

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