In Florida, when a child is born of a Mother and Father whom are not married to each other, the child is considered born “out of wedlock.” This means that the Mother is the only “legal” guardian of the child, even though the child is biologically the Father’s. Often times, in the hospital, the Father will sign an “Affidavit of Paternity” which will allow his name to be placed on the birth certificate as the child’s Father. Father’s mistakenly believe that this act of signing the Affidavit of Paternity gives them legal rights to their child; however, that is not the case.
Having your name placed on the birth certificate is not enough. Pursuant to Florida Statute, 744.301, the Mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to primary residential care and custody of the child unless the court enters an order stating otherwise. In order for a Father to obtain an order establishing his legal rights, that allows him to have a say in the child’s medical care, schooling, and even time-sharing, he must petition the court to establish a legal relationship with the child. This is done through filing a Paternity action with the court. If you or someone you know is attempting to establish a legal relationship with their child, it is important to seek legal representation to learn about all of your options.
For more information regarding paternity, time-sharing and/or custody, please contact the law office of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.