Fathers do have rights in the state of Florida, that is, when they are found to be the “legal” father. Being the “biological” Father does not provide the rights for the Father (time-sharing, decision making, etc.). This becomes very complicated when the Mother is married (intact marriage or separated does not matter, legally married) to a man and she gives birth to the baby from a different man. The husband is considered the legal Father, and this can potentially strip a biological Father of any future rights to his child.
The best time to establish your legal rights is immediately, even if you and the mother are in a great relationship. If you are not married to the Mother at the time your child is born, you want to become the “legal” Father by filing the appropriate legal paperwork. When you and the Mother have a good relationship, this process, although somewhat strange, is much easier and less expensive to resolve. You are an equal parent as the Father, and you can preserve these rights by taking care of your legal paperwork sooner than later.
If you have failed to take care of the legal paperwork, at a minimum you want to register on the Putative Father Registry, this will prevent anyone from adopting your child before you have the opportunity to take on that responsibility if the Mother is not interested in caring for the child, or if she wants to have a step parent adopt your child.
If you are not adjudicated the legal Father, you cannot prevent the Mother from moving out of state, or even out of the County with your child.
Know your rights as an unmarried Father, you have to take extra steps to get your rights; however, they are easily obtainable, especially if you start early in the process. When the Mother is pregnant be sure to assist her with her needs, emotional and financial. To have a stream-lined process and a better chance of a successful ending, do not go at it alone, hire a competent attorney in the area of Paternity. At Schwam-Wilcox & Associates, we are here to help Fathers obtain and maintain a great relationship and bond with their children. Do not wait for problems to arise, invoke your rights when you find out that you are expecting a baby; a child deserves two parents, do not let someone take that right away from you and your child.