According to the Institute for Family Studies, approximately 40% of children in the United States are born to unwed parents. This number has risen dramatically in the last 20 years. The job of a parent is still the same, no matter if you are married or not. However, the rights of a father are not as static. Though married and unmarried fathers share the same title, they are not considered to be equals in the eyes of the law. Some instances will require unmarried fathers to contact an attorney that specializes in Family Law in Florida. In this article, we will explore the parental rights of unmarried Fathers in the State of Florida and how to legally establish your rights.

father and daughter 1 - Unmarried Fathers Rights in Florida

Do Fathers Automatically Have Parental Rights?

Married fathers are endowed with equal legal and custody rights when the child is born. Unfortunately, an unmarried father does not get these same rights in the State of Florida. In fact, an unmarried father has no such rights in the eyes of the law. Even if the name of the father is on the child’s birth certificate, he has no legal or physical rights until it is established and recognized by the courts in Florida. If done voluntarily by the mother and father, establishing paternity can be easy and quick. Otherwise, it may be a time and resource intensive process that may need the expertise of a Family Lawyer in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

How To Legally Establish Your Rights as a Parent

There are a number of ways to legally establish your rights as a Father under the rules of Family Law in Florida. Below, we have outlined each procedure.

  1. Voluntary Acknowledgement: If both parents are in agreeance regarding the paternity of the child, then this is the most efficient way to have the law recognize the father’s paternity. Upon the birth of the child, the father and mother must sign the Paternity Acknowledgment form as well as have it notarized. When this is completed, the father will be recognized as such by the law.
  2. Marriage: When the mother and father of a child decide to get married post birth, the fathers legal rights as a parent are automatically granted through a process called legitimization.
  3. Administrative Order of Paternity: If the above two options are not viable, then an administrative order is the next best way to accomplish the goal of establishing paternity. This will involve a DNA test via the Department of Revenue. Once verified, the department will contact the Florida Office of Vital Statistics to have the father’s name added to the birth certificate. This step does not give legal rights to the father.
  4. Filing a Paternity Action: This is typically the most time consuming and resource intensive step. If the father wishes to gain legal rights including visitation, he must file a paternity action and go through the appropriate steps.

When to Hire A Lawyer To Help

When the mother of the child and the father are in agreeance on most all issues surrounding paternity, custody, visitation and all other legal rights, a Family Attorney may not be needed. However, if there is a disagreement regarding the aforementioned paternal rights, it will be necessary to contact a Family Lawyer in Miami and Fort Lauderdale to handle your case and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome. These situations are not easy on the mother, father or child. It is best to take care of them as expeditiously as possible. In addition, if the mother of the child has legal representation and the father does not, it may lead to an unfair outcome due to the complexities of family law in the State of Florida.

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