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Unwed Parents and Custody

Generally, Florida courts are in favor of a shared parenting agreement. This means both parties have custody of the child in an agreed upon manner.

However, this isn’t so in the case of unwed parents. If the parents aren’t married, the law in Florida designates the mother as the custodian of the child automatically. Until paternity is established the mother will have sole legal rights related to the child.

An unmarried mother has the right to “establish paternity” for the child. That means that she can ask the court to establish paternity through DNA testing of the father. Once a man has been legally established as father of the child the mother no longer has de facto sole parenting rights. Now the father can exercise his rights to the child through legal action.

The father’s name on the child’s birth certificate doesn’t give the father any legal rights. That must be done through a court order. An unmarried father has to file a petition to even begin the process of having any custodial rights. This road also leads to child support. Any number of problems can arise based on the actions you do or don’t take related to paternity.

If you were unmarried at the time of your child’s birth, it’s important in the state of Florida that you hire an attorney to help you sort through your rights and this process. Call Dunham and Ingram today so we can make sure your rights are protected.