As a father, your relationship with your child will be invaluable. You help give them a sense of the world around them and of themselves. You spend time with them and also provide them with financial support to help them grow into the best person they can be.
Your role as a father is a very important one, which is why you need to know and make use of your rights. Your children need you in their lives, and your life will be much richer for having an active role in your children’s upbringing. Even if the relationship you have with their mother has ended, your relationship with your child is still important.
What rights do you have as a father in Florida?
The right to establish paternity
If you married the mother of your child, the state likely already views you as the legal father of any children conceived or born during your relationship. Your name will usually automatically go on the birth certificate.
Unfortunately, that means that unmarried fathers sometimes have a bit of a challenge ahead of them. Especially if the mother of their child does not want to acknowledge them or admit their relationship, they may struggle to gain access to their children.
The family courts can help fathers establish paternity when there is reason to believe that they could be the father of a child even when the mother is reticent to cooperate.
The right to parenting time and parental responsibilities
Being able to spend time with your children is the most basic of all parental rights. Once you have established paternity, you theoretically have the same rights as a mother does. That includes the right to spend time with your children, either via visitation or through shared custody.
Occasionally, fathers can even obtain sole custody when the child is no longer with the mother or when the mother cannot provide a safe home environment. Fathers also have the right to have a say in the child’s upbringing, from the religion the child follows to the school that they attend and the medical care they receive. That decision-making authority is often shared with the mother, meaning that parents will have to agree on many issues related to their children.
Before you can start helping guide your child’s development, you first need to understand your rights and make use of them. Learning about your rights as a father will be the first step to asserting them and possibly securing shared custody of your children.