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Unmarried dads must establish paternity to secure custody rights

On Behalf of | Dec 25, 2022 | Paternity |

In theory, fathers in Florida have the same general rights as mothers do. They can ask for time-sharing with their children and have a say in their health care, education and other key decisions. However, fathers have to establish themselves in a parental role in a way that mothers do not. 

Many fathers establish paternity by getting married. There is a presumption of paternity that applies to the husband of a married woman. Only a father whose name is on the child’s birth certificate and whose paternity the state recognizes can ask for parenting time, which means you may feel powerless if you never married the mother of your child. 

How do you establish paternity as an unmarried father who wants time with his children in Florida? 

You can work with the mother

Unmarried fathers can fill out voluntary paperwork acknowledging their relationship with a child beginning at the birth of the child until the child turns 18. If the father cannot convince the mother to cooperate with him and acknowledge him as the father, then he may instead need to go to family court, as the genetic testing the courts can order will quickly validate whether or not he is the biological father of the child. 

Successfully completing paternity proceedings to add a man’s name to the birth certificate will result in that man having the right to ask for shared custody. Once a man has officially established paternity, he theoretically has the same rights and responsibilities that a mother would toward his children. Taking the necessary steps to establish paternity in Florida will help fathers who want to be an active part of their children’s lives.