Unmarried fathers in Florida do not automatically have child custody or visitation rights. You may support and have a positive relationship with your child, but that does not mean you have a right to see your child if the mother cuts off visits. To protect your rights as a father, you must establish paternity.
Many unmarried fathers feel blindsided when the mother prevents them from seeing their child. This may happen following the breakup of an unmarried relationship. However, just because you ended your relationship with the mother does not mean you want to end your relationship with your child.
In Florida, the law is clear. If a child is born out of wedlock, the mother gets 100 percent of parenting time (also known as child custody). The mother can cut off visits or even remove the child from Florida without permission from the father or the court. It is up to the father to establish paternity. Once the court grants paternity, fathers can obtain time-sharing or visitation rights. The father will also be responsible for their share of child support.
There are two ways to establish paternity in Florida:
- If both parents agree who the father is, the court will establish paternity without the need for a DNA test.
- If the parents do not agree, the court will order a DNA test to establish paternity.
Simply having your name on the child's birth certificate does not establish paternity in Florida.
The Nix Law, P.A., in Orlando represents fathers seeking to establish their rights as a father. We are passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of our clients and protecting the rights of fathers in family law matters.