A common question I receive is, "What are my rights as a Father if I am named on the birth certificate?" Many times, fathers say they have a "custody" case that they wish to pursue.
Many couples start a family and live in a committed relationship, but what happens when the relationship sours? What are father's rights in Florida?
The legal system requires fathers to file what is called a "Paternity" case in order to legally establish fatherhood. This is a circuit court case that involves the couple (or the court) coming up with a Parenting Plan that addresses child support, parental responsibility, and a time-sharing schedule.
If there is a dispute as to biological paternity, that will be looked at first. The Court may require DNA testing. If there is no dispute, which is the more common scenario, the couple may sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or stipulate as to the paternity. Thereby, establishing the paternity. In some cases, paternity has already been established by the Department of Revenue in a child support proceeding. However, in these cases, the Dept. cannot go further to establish any right to time-sharing for the father.
The next step is for the couple to work on a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child(ren). The parenting plan addresses how decisions will be made on behalf of the child (called "parental responsibility"), such as medical and educational decisions. It sets forth a child support obligation, a time-sharing schedule, holiday schedule, obligations on how uncovered medical expenses, health insurance, and extra-curricular expenses will be paid.
Contact us today to set a consultation to discuss your rights. (941) 764-1146