When a union results in children, and then that union then dissolves, there are some common assumptions that are made about custody and timesharing rights. Regardless of the duration of the relationship, according to Florida law, if the couple had their child(ren) outside of wedlock, the father has no legal rights to custody or timesharing of the children until paternity is determined. Until that time, the mother has sole legal and physical custody of the children.
Single Mother’s Rights
In Florida, the law states that both parents must provide financial support for their children. For some women, financial support is not a pressing issue, and therefore, paternity is not expedited. In this case, they have no court-ordered obligation to arrange for timesharing to the father of the child. However, if the father continues to pursue paternity, and it is established, the father may be awarded timesharing and parental responsibility. It is noteworthy that Florida does not have a presumption rule for 50/50 custody, so these details would need to be arranged by the couple and/or the court. Of course, each paternity matter is unique and navigating this with your lawyer here at Sinatra Legal is the best way to determine what is beneficial for individual situations.
Unwed Father’s Rights
If the father is unmarried and has not yet established paternity, unwed fathers have no right to custody or timesharing of minor children. Even if the birth certificate was signed by the father, without first establishing paternity, custody will still not be granted. If it later turns out he is not the biological father, the act of signing the birth certificate can still hold the signer financially responsible for the child until paternity is disestablished. Therefore, to protect the interests of the father, it is important that paternity be established as soon as possible.
Children’s Best Interest
Both parents play pivotal roles in their children’s lives. Evaluating the emotional and financial stability and the ability for each parent to be able to provide these crucial components is what will best serve the children. Court orders will protect the parent’s rights to have custody and timesharing of the children helping to ensure that while the relationship may have ended, the love, care and concern for the children has not.
Understanding the nuances of divorce and child custody can be daunting! Our compassionate and experienced team is here to be in your corner! We can work in the capacity of mediation, or fight hard for your desired outcome in court. Give us a call at 561.430.4121 or visit our Facebook page to see how our team can support you!