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.