As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child, and you will do everything in your power to remain an important and present figure in their life. Unfortunately, for families going through divorce, how and when you get to spend time with your child is not always up to you. It’s up to the courts.
For dads, it can feel like the cards are stacked against you in the battle to gain fair and equal time with your kids, but Florida Statute 61.046 protects your rights in stating that shared parental responsibility is “a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child and in which both parents confer with each other so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.”
All of this is true and legally binding provided you are the legal father of the child…
The Issue with Paternity
Paternity is full of shades of gray in Florida, but first the black-and-white: if you were married at the time of your child’s birth, paternity is automatic and you do not need to establish paternity.
The tricky situation with paternity and divorce stems from a unique situation: if you had the child before you were married, then got married to the mother, then file for divorce.
In that scenario, while you may be without-a-doubt certain that you are the biological father of your child, if paternity has not been legally established, your rights may be severely limited in the eyes of the law. If you are not the legal father, your rights may exclude any shared parenting time, input on important issues, determining the child’s home, and ensuring a smooth custody transition if the mother were to die.
In that specific scenario (have a child, get married, get divorced), if paternity has not been established prior to divorce, your rights are not totally lost as there are court-ordered ways to establish paternity. Be sure to read this blog to learn more.
Equity in Parenting
In the Florida family court system, priority number one is ensuring the well-being and best interest of your child(ren). The courts do not lead with the assumption that the best interest of the children includes equal time with both parents. As they evaluate parental factors, they will consider things like:
- Your relationship with your child
- The child’s wishes (depending on their age)
- Your ability to support your child socially, emotionally, and financially
- Your ability to cooperate with your former spouse & encourage the relationship with the other parent
Doing everything you can to demonstrate your commitment and reliability as a parent will help your case, such as being present in your child’s life, creating an in inviting and special place for them in your home, and abiding by any court orders.
If you are concerned as a dad about receiving equal timesharing for your child, please get in touch with us at the Vasquez de Lara Law Group right away. We will help ensure that your rights as a father are protected.