How to Be a Dad, According to Florida’s Paternity Laws

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

In recent decades, Florida courts have shown more appreciation for the important role of fathers in their children’s lives. For example, the idea of a mother having “primary custody” of the children while the father only has “visitation” is mostly a thing of the past. Today, parenting plans contain a lot more detail and nuance about the role of each parent. All of this is simple enough when it comes to fathers who have gone through a divorce from the children’s mother.  But what about when the child’s parents were never married to each other? Then is it easy for the mother to keep the children away from the father?  In order for unmarried fathers to be able to defend their legal rights to a meaningful relationship with their children, they must first legally establish paternity.

What Rights Do Fathers Have?

You might think that going through the process to establish paternity is unnecessary red tape, especially if you communicate well enough with your child’s mother that there have never been any major disagreements about the child. You might have an unwritten agreement where you take care of the child at certain times and provide some financial support to the child. Without legally establishing paternity, though, anything can change. What if a new partner enters the picture? What if one of you decides to move out of state?

A child’s legal father has certain rights and obligations regarding his children.

  • Physical custody: The court can enforce the father’s right to spend a certain number of days per year with the children. (This is called “timesharing” in the Florida parenting plan.)
  • Legal custody: The father has the right to act on the children’s behalf and make major decisions regarding them. This is especially important regarding schools; legal custody is the right to decide everything from which school the children attend to which extracurricular activities they can do.
  • Child support: You might not think of paying child support as a “right,” but Florida law also considers the father’s needs and ability to pay in determining how much child support her should pay. If the children spend more time with you and your income is lower than your ex’s, the court might require her to pay child support.

How to Get the Court to Recognize You as the Child’s Father

The easiest way for an unmarried father to become recognized as the legal father is to file a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Once you and the child’s mother file this signed statement with the court, it will become legally binding 60 days later. The court may or may not ask you to take a DNA test to prove that you are the biological father of the child.

Burton Law Is Here to Help Fathers

When you have established legal paternity, the court cannot take your children away from you, except in very extreme circumstances. Contact Alan Burton in Palm Beach County in order to have the court legally acknowledge you as the father of your children.

Client Reviews

Alan R. Burton is a good human being but truly a great lawyer. Alan R. Burton took my very weak case but with his dedication and smartness Alan R. Burton ended up winning it for me and most important Alan R. Burton won the case with 0% tolerance for lies and 100% for truth. I’m simply convinced with...

Amer A.

"Alan Burton represented me on a tough child support case. He was extremely professional, aggressive and ethical in the courtroom. He is very honest and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend him for any case, no questions asked. Thank you Mr. Burton for all of your help and support through this...

Abigail A.

"As a single working mother of two young children, I totally appreciated Alan's flexibility to E mail and to converse by phone. There were times I could only respond or ask questions regarding my case well after 6 P.M. and Alan always made himself available to suit my schedule. Alan is a single dad...

Stephanie C.

"I give great pleasure in writing this review for Mr. Alan Burton. He was a tremendous help in resolving my foreign divorce/child custody case. Very competent, knowledgeable and always available; day and night. I am located in the Middle East and had a very complicated divorce/child custody case...

David A.

"As any devoted parent who loves their children, imagine the thought of your children being abducted by another parent. The feeling of not knowing if you will ever get them back, the anxiety of court proceedings, and a possible International custody battle. This is something I would never want any...

Stefan B.

Get in Touch

  1. 1 Free Consultation
  2. 2 40 Years of Experience
  3. 3 Speak Directly to an Attorney
Fill out the contact form or call us at (954) 229-1660 to schedule your free consultation.

Leave Us a Message