Father rights Florida are something you want to learn about if you have a child and you are no longer with the mother or are in a relationship but unmarried. There is no doubt that legal rights are complicated when it comes to fathers and this is particularly true if you are not married to the mother.

It is important to arm yourself with all of the information you can before going to court so that you can see your child as much as possible. The law in this area can be difficult to understand, so here is a guide to unmarried fathers rights in Florida.

What Does the Law in Florida Say About Unmarried Couples and a Child?

If you are in Florida, it is important to know that the law only recognizes a mother automatically as a legal custodian. Therefore, even if a couple knows that the man is the father, he is not automatically assumed to be the dad by the State of Florida. This is the case even when the father’s name is on the birth certificate.

Therefore, a father is in a position where he is going to have to fight for custody or visitation rights to the child if the couple is unmarried. Of course, the situation is going to be different if you are married. In that case, the father will have legal rights available and there will not have to be the establishment of paternity.

However, do not worry if you are not married to the mother of your child. Our experts are here to help. After all, in the 21st century it is common for a child to be born outside of wedlock.

In other words, the relationship can be casual or otherwise not cemented by marriage before a child is born. However, you should not assume that, if parents break up as a couple, they are going to automatically have child custody or visitation rights.

What Rights Does a Father Have in Florida?

If you are a father in the state of Florida, you can have custody and visitation rights. Custody rights are about being able to look after your child and being their main supporting parent. This includes the scenario of a child living with the father.

When it comes to visitation rights, there are several that can be on the table for a father. For instance, they should be able to contact their child on a regular basis. This can be in a physical way or through the internet and mobile phone contact.

It is important to note that a father can only seek visitation rights to a child if they are the biological father. It is also possible if they have legally adopted a child. This is the first part of the law you will have to satisfy in order to proceed with visitation rights. In order to do this, you will have to prove that the child is yours, which is called establishing paternity.

This can be done through a DNA test, which is going to match the father to the child in question. After establishing paternity, a family law court will look at the case and grant a paternity order. From this, a father can claim his legal rights to see his child. It can also mean that he has an obligation to pay child support.

What Will Happen After Establishing Paternity?

It is always the hope that parents can agree on visitation for a child without involving the courts. Thus, it is important for parents to try to agree first so that the best interests of the child can be met. A visitation schedule can be drawn up and the parents can agree on who gets custody.

However, in reality, this is not always the case. The parents can disagree on who is going to have custody of the child or what the visitation hours and frequency should be. In this case, it will be down to a Florida family court to decide what will happen.

In court, a custody plan will be made a priority. This means deciding who is going to be able to make the major decisions for a child, such as on healthcare, education and religious teachings.

In addition, the court will have to decide who the child is going to be better living with. A lot of the time, courts like to see equal custody for the mother and father. This means spending the same amount of time with equal parents.

However, sometimes a parent will have full custody of the child. This means that the judge will be creating a time-sharing schedule for visitation. One parent might have a schedule for spending time with their child. While this often tends to be the father, the dad can also be awarded full custody. So, the outcome in each case is going to be different and depends on what is right for the child.

What Factors Does a Judge Consider for Custody?

Among other things, a father’s moral fitness is something that a court will examine. If there is any question about it, the visitation rights or custody rights will be modified. Therefore, it is important to note that a father’s history and their behavior will be part of the proceedings in court.

It will be important for each parent to demonstrate their capacity to look after their child and show they are capable of parental responsibilities. They must be able to show they have a safe and stable environment for their child to grow up in and be able to meet their needs.

There are some cases where a judge will listen to the preferences of the child. Of course, this is only possible if the child is old enough to understand the question and to rationalize what parent they need in their life most.

It is important to realize that a family court judge takes their role very seriously. They will do a lot of investigation and work before simply handing over any of these rights to the father. While Florida custody laws for fathers are equal to mothers, they are not something everyone will enjoy due to past behaviors.

The judge has the ability to make a decision based on a number of different factors. After all, this is to ensure the best for the child and their welfare.

How Can a Father Have the Best Chance of Gaining Custody?

It is important for a father to be on their best behavior before going to court. Their daily habits and lifestyle will be put under the spotlight to ensure that they can create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for a child to grow up in.

A father can make some adjustments to show that they are a fit parent. This can include stopping drinking and any drug use, as well as getting a good job and being able to provide for their child.

One thing that is going to be important to a family court in Florida is stability. They want to ensure that a father is able to give a stable life to a child.

Physical and mental health is something courts will look into. A court must be convinced that a father is able to look after themselves before they are able to see a child. While a mental health condition is not something that will always stop you from gaining visitation rights, there has to be sufficient evidence that you are getting help and there is some stability in your own life.

It is essential to note that there are going to be some circumstances where a father could lose their rights to visitation. This can include if they are convicted of child abuse, sexual violence or domestic violence. These are crimes that may pose a danger to a child.

Will a Visitation Order Be Enforced?

Yes, a father in Florida is entitled to go to the courts to petition for the enforcement of the agreement. When a father is successfully awarded a visitation order, it is important for both parents to follow this judgment by the family court. Of course, this is for the best interests of the child and to make sure that they can have a good relationship with both of their parents.

Both of the parents have to follow a visitation order or there can be penalties. For example, if a mother restricts the father from seeing the child after a visitation order is agreed upon, she can get into trouble.

Can There Be a Modification of Custody and Visitation Rights in the Future?

Yes, in certain circumstances custody and visitation rights can be modified. Namely, custody and visitation can receive modification where there has been a significant or material change in circumstances since the last order in court. Thus, the change is necessary for the child’s best interests.

If a father is the one that wants to change custody or visitation, they are going to carry the burden of proof in court. This means that they have to prove and show the judge why this modification is necessary.

Conclusion

States deal with family matters differently and if you live in the Sunshine State, you need to be aware of a father’s rights in Florida.

Let’s summarize what we have learned about the legal rights of a marriage father and those that are unmarried:

  • Married fathers are automatically considered to be the biological dad but this is not the case if the child is born outside of wedlock.
  • It is essential for an unmarried father to establish paternity before they have custody or visitation rights.
  • A DNA test can be a way of establishing paternity and this can happen in a family law court.
  • A visitation schedule can be drawn up if a father does not have full custody.
  • Fathers are able to gain full custody if this is the best thing for their child.
  • A father’s moral fitness is going to be important for a court and you must demonstrate you can meet the needs of a child.
  • You may lose rights to custody and visitation when you are convicted of a felony or threatening crime, such as child abuse or domestic violence.
  • There can be penalties for not following a visitation order.

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you now have all of the information you need to gain access to your child.

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