Fatherhood in Florida is tricky, especially for unmarried families. In fact, without paternity being legally established, a father’s rights are more or less non-existent in the eyes of the law.
Understanding paternity in Florida
When children are born to married couples, the husband is legally considered the father. This is presumed based upon Florida Statute section 382.013(2)(a), which states that “if the mother is married at the time of [her child’s] birth, the name of… [her] husband shall be entered on the birth certificate as the father of the child, unless paternity has been determined otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
When the parents are unmarried, however, the state of Florida does not grant the father any legal rights to custody, visitation, or other paternal rights unless paternity has been legally established. That means the mother has sole legal and physical custody of the child.
A father’s rights in Florida
Without established paternity, a father in Florida has extremely limited rights. For example, he may not be granted legal parenting time with his child, be able to offer input on important decisions impacting the child, or have a say in where the child and mother live. Potentially even more problematic, however, is that the father will not automatically be granted custody should the child’s mother unexpectedly pass away.
Fatherhood is not something to take for granted if you live in Florida. One important right you do always maintain is your right to establish paternity, which we recommend fathers do as early as possible. For help getting started with this process, get in touch with us at Vasquez de Lara Law Group to schedule a free consultation.