Your Rights Regarding Nonmarital Children in Florida

In today’s society, the number of unmarried parents with children has increased substantially. As a result, we field many questions regarding the rights and responsibilities of parents to a nonmarital child, also commonly referred to as an illegitimate child. Parents often wonder how their unmarried status will affect the lives of their child. The following is some basic information regarding nonmarital children in Florida.


Under Florida law, a child is automatically considered to be the lawful child of his or her mother. However, a child is only automatically presumed to be the lawful child of a father in one of the following situations:

  • The parents are married at the time of the birth;
  • The parents get married at some point following the child’s birth;
  • The father consents to be named on the child’s birth certificate;
  • The father holds the child out as his biological child;
  • The father formally acknowledges paternity with the required paperwork; or
  • There is a judicial decree establishing paternity.

Establishing legal paternity by one of the above methods ensures that both your nonmarital child and his or her father have all the rights that come with the parent-child relationship.

Child Support

A child has the legal right to financial support from both parents, even if the parents were never married. If legal paternity has been established, unmarried parents will both have the same child support obligations and responsibilities as divorcing parents.

If legal paternity has not been established and unmarried parents are not in a relationship, it is essential to establish paternity to ensure a child receives the full financial support they deserve. A paternity action can be brought in court by the father, mother, or the child in order to make sure all parties have the full rights and responsibilities they should under the law.

Custody and Timesharing

While most people think of custody, timesharing, and visitation in reference to divorce cases, these issues are equally important for parents who were never married and decide to end their relationship. Assuming paternity is legally established, Florida law states that both parents have the right to frequent and continuing contact with the child and that no presumption for custody is given to the mother or the father. This is the same regardless of the prior marital status of the parents.

Other Legal Questions

The Supreme Court of the United States will not uphold any law that unlawfully discriminates against nonmarital children. Therefore, nonmarital children have the same rights to inheritance from their parents, receiving government benefits based on their parents, and to bring a legal claim for the wrongful death of one of their parents. In addition, unmarried parents may both recover for wrongful death of the nonmarital child, assuming paternity was established.

Questions involving children are some of the most important family law issues that can arise, because children deserve full protection under the law, whether marital or nonmarital. Experienced Boca Raton family law attorney Alan Burton works to ensure that you and your child receive the best possible outcome in your case, so please contact our office today with any question or concerns.

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