As a Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer, I often have cases where a mother and father are not married to one another but they have a child in common. In my experience many men falsely believe simply because their name is on the birth certificate that they are legally the fathers. In Florida this is simply not the case! There is more that is required for unwed fathers in Florida to gain legal rights over their children.
Under Florida law, until a Judge signs an Order which determines that an unwed man is the father of a child, then the child is NOT legally his. As such, the man has no legal rights to the child. That includes no rights for timesharing and no rights over major decisions in the child’s life. This means that if the child’s mother does not want to allow the alleged father to see the child, she is under no legal obligation to do so.
In order to be recognized as the legal father in Florida it is necessary to file what is called a Petition for Determination of Paternity. Paternity actions are brought before a court in order to assist a parent in acknowledging and protecting important time-sharing and child support rights and/or obligations.
You may ask, “Who exactly can file a paternity action?” Any woman who is pregnant or has had a child, a man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or even a child may bring a paternity action to determine paternity when paternity has yet to be established. With that being said, an individual can also bring a paternity action if he believes he is not the father of a child but currently has a child support order against him.
It is important to note that Paternity actions are not simple proceedings that can be easily undertaken without the assistance of a knowledgeable Jacksonville Paternity Lawyer. If you have had a child out of wedlock and are concerned about your rights and the rights of your child, contact Law Office of David M. Goldman to schedule a free consultation today!
Night and weekend appointments available. Simply call (904) 685-1200 and ask to schedule a consultation.