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Florida Family Law - Online Article

Dads- Even the Playing Field by Filing for Paternity

Posted on February 23, 2015

You’ve heard the stories before, and most likely you know a few folks who just don’t like the idea of committing to Marriage. Informal relationships are the new norm—and approximately 40% of all births in the United States involve unwed parents. What many people might not know however is that in Florida, the unmarried mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child. What does this mean? Mom is entitled to primary residential care and custody unless a court order states otherwise.

What does this mean for Dad? Until a Court Order says otherwise, Mom can take the child born out of wedlock and leave the state of Florida if she desires. Mom can decide when, where, and how Dad gets to see his own child and deny Dad time-sharing with the child if she so chooses. In sum, Mom gets to call the shots until the Court says otherwise.

The fact that your name might be on the Birth Certificate does not establish the paternity of the child. You must do more than acknowledge paternity—you should consider filing a Petition to Establish Paternity. This Petition gives you the ability to establish not only your child support obligation, but also your time-sharing schedule with your child.

Oftentimes, we see Dads who were told by the child’s Mom that the Department of Revenue action Mom filed, took care of Dad’s Paternity. If Mom files a Department of Revenue action to establish child support, Dads must know that the Department does not establish time-sharing. Only a Petition to Establish Paternity takes care of BOTH the issues of time-sharing and child support.

Do yourself and your family a favor—take the extra step and file a Petition to Establish Paternity. You will save money in the long run by establishing both the time sharing and the child support at the same time, because child support is largely based on the number of overnights you share with your child. Speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you establish your Paternity the right way, the first time.


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