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Winston Law PA
561-670-9375

I am a father who was never married to my child’s mother, what are my rights?

I am a father who was never married to my child’s mother, what are my rights?

As a West Palm Beach Family Lawyer, I get several phone
calls a week from unmarried parents trying to figure out how the legal system
handles the parental rights of the father.
Unmarried parents fall into the legal category of Paternity.  Perhaps somewhat archaic and backwards and
regardless of whether the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate,
Florida law does not establish parental rights of an unmarried father until a
Paternity lawsuit is properly filed.

A Paternity lawsuit can be filed by either the mother or
father of the child.  Its purpose is to
establish the father’s parental rights toward the child, child support, and a
time-sharing plan between the two parents.
If you are a mother, you will likely want to file a Paternity lawsuit in
order to legally establish paternity and also have court ordered child
support.

If you are a father and you want an active role in your
child’s life, it is imperative to file a Paternity lawsuit in order to
establish your parental rights.  Without
filing for Paternity, the court will not recognize your rights as a
parent.  You may have an agreement with
your child’s mother that dictates when you will see the child and the amount of
money you will give her each month to support your child, but if this agreement
is not signed by the courts, it will not be recognized.  What does this mean?  The mother of your child can at any time stop
allowing you visitation with the child.
The mother can also make any and all parenting decisions without
consulting you. To avoid this, you need to file a Paternity Petition which will
result in establishing the paternity of the child, a parenting plan and a child
support order.

Fathers should also beware that often mothers file a
Petition to Establish Paternity and only request that child support be
ordered.  In these situations, the father
must file a request to establish a parenting plan in order to guarantee
time-sharing with the child.

If you need a West Palm Beach Family Law attorney, please
contact Winston Law, P.A. at (561) 670-9375 or susan@winstonlawpa.com.