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What Are Your Rights As An Unmarried Father In Florida?


A common misconception is that both parents automatically have rights to a child after childbirth, even if the parents are not married when the child is born. When a child is born out of wedlock, Florida law automatically recognizes the biological mother as the legal custodian.

The unmarried mother has sole legal custody even if the unmarried father’s name is written on the child’s birth certificate. For this reason, unmarried fathers will need to take certain steps to ensure that they are granted legal rights after childbirth.

Unwed fathers have no parental or visitation rights unless they successfully establish paternity. Without this step, an unmarried father will not be able to spend time with their child, especially if the mother does not want the father to take any role in the child’s life.

Fighting for your legal rights as an unmarried father can be difficult in Florida, especially if you do not understand where to start. Schedule a case review with our Orlando paternity attorney at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., to discuss your situation and find out how you can establish paternity in your specific case.

Establishing Paternity as an Unmarried Father

An unwed father does not automatically receive any legal rights when the child is born, while married fathers are automatically considered legal parents. If a child is born when the parents are unmarried, the father will need to obtain legal rights through establishing paternity.

There are several ways to establish paternity in Florida:

  • A voluntary acknowledgment. Both unmarried parents can simply sign and file a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This is the easiest way to establish paternity in Florida. However, it may not be possible if there is a dispute between the parents or the mother refuses to sign the form.
  • File a Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief. If the first option does not work, you can fill out the Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief and submit it to the court. By submitting this petition, you are asking the court to grant you legal rights and establish a child support obligation and a timesharing schedule.

The court might order an unmarried father to undergo a DNA test when establishing paternity. The purpose of the DNA test is to prove that the petitioner is the biological father of the child.

Once you have established paternity, you have a right to pursue your child custody and support rights if you and the mother of your child separate. Your custody and support case will be handled the same way courts handle married parents’ custody and support cases. In Florida, courts make custody and support decisions based on the best interests of the child.

If you need assistance in establishing paternity or fighting for your legal rights as an unmarried father in Florida, consider speaking with a lawyer. Our attorney at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., helps fathers obtain their legal rights even if they were not married when their child was born. Schedule a case review by calling 407-521-7171.

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