Unmarried couples who have children should understand their parental rights and responsibilities. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to take legal steps to exercise these rights in Florida.
Knowing how to proceed can preserve your parental relationship, which supports your child’s well-being.
Process to establish paternity
If a child is born to an unmarried couple in Florida, the father can establish paternity in two ways. If both parents agree on biological paternity, they can sign a legal paternity acknowledgment to establish the father’s parental rights.
You may not agree on paternity with the child’s other parent. In this case, either parent can request a court order for paternity. A genetic test will determine the father’s identity in this case.
Legal parental rights and responsibilities
After establishing paternity, both parents share specific parental rights. Unmarried fathers and mothers have equal rights to seek time-sharing with their children.
They also share equal rights to make major decisions about the child’s welfare. These decisions may include education, healthcare and religious upbringing.
Parents must create a parenting plan to outline time-sharing arrangements, decision-making responsibilities and child support obligations. The court can determine a schedule if the parents cannot agree. The judge focuses on the child’s best interests when ordering custody or visitation.
Both parents, whether married or unmarried, must support their child financially. The court bases child support orders on income, the child’s needs and other factors.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 46.5% of babies born in Florida have unmarried parents. Prepare for this situation by reviewing your rights and taking the necessary steps to establish these rights in court.