Paternity Is Not Just About a Name on th Birth Certificate

Just because a man's name is on a child's birth certificate doesn't mean parental rights have automatically been bestowed on him.

Basic legal obligations do attach under Florida law to unwed fathers named on the certificate, but those typically only relate to payment of child support. The conferring of paternity rights such as visitation or partial custody is something a court handles, and it won't happen for a responsible dad unless the proper legal action is pursued. An attorney's help is always advised to be sure all the necessary bases are covered.

Getting the appropriate documentation from the court provides another value for the aspiring dad. It creates conditions that make it possible for disputes over child support or custody to be brought back before the court if that becomes necessary.

No matter how amicable you believe your relationship is with the mother of your child right now, it would be naïve to think it will always stay that way. By establishing paternity, an unwed  father has a tool that can be used to uphold his rights should the mom become vengeful in some way.

An example when this might happen could be if you fall behind on child support payments. Some mothers might look to leverage recovery of missed payments by withholding visitation rights. If paternity rights have been established and a visitation schedule set, Florida law makes it illegal for the support recipient to do anything to adjust the time-sharing deal.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the legal status of fatherhood is not determined simply by factors related to DNA, and a man who wants to be a father, if he is not married to the mother, may face some legal challenges to exercise his rights. 

Source: ABCActionNews.com, "Five important things that unwed fathers need to know," Yvette Harrell, Oct. 8, 2013

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  • Mikaela Nix
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    Mikaela Nix is an Orlando attorney with experience handling Family Law (emphasis on Fathers’ rights). Her aggressive and diligent representation has proven invaluable in making sure her clients know without a doubt that the lawyer advocating for them is committed to advancing their interests.
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