You might not be married to your baby’s mother. That could affect your visitation or custody rights in Florida. Unmarried fathers must establish paternity if they want parental rights.
Florida law is clear. The mother is the main guardian of their child. The father does not have any legal rights even if their name is on the birth certificate.
If you want to be a part of your child’s life you must establish paternity. Without authentication, the mother can deny you access to your child.
You are the alleged father until you establish paternity
The court will consider you the alleged father until you establish paternity. That could be a burden for you and your child. The sooner you establish your parental rights, the sooner you can assume your role as your child’s father.
You can establish your rights through:
- Civil Action. There will be a court hearing and both parents must attend. The judge will look at the evidence and establish your paternity through a court order. The judge can also order a genetic test.
- Paternity Acknowledgment. This is the easiest (and quickest) way to establish paternity. Both parents must sign the form with a notary public present. You become the legal father as soon as you both sign the form. The hospital will send the completed form to the Florida Bureau of Vital statistics. There could be additional problems if the mother was married to someone else at the time of birth.
Your custody and visitation rights are at stake
If you want to be a part of your child’s life, you will have to establish your paternity. It might seem like a daunting challenge, but it is the only way to ensure your parenting rights.