What Rights Does an Unwed Father Have?

What Rights Does an Unwed Father Have?

Posted By R. Gregory Colvin LLC || 7-May-2019

When a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes the woman’s husband is the child’s biological and legal father. But when a child is born to unmarried parents, paternity must be established before the family court can issue orders for child support, custody, and visitation.

You see, until paternity is established, a father has zero rights and responsibilities toward his child. This means he is not obligated to pay child support, and he cannot seek custody or visitation until paternity is established. He has no say in the child’s upbringing.

What is Paternity?

Paternity refers to establishing a child’s legal father. Once paternity is established, the mother can ask for child support, and the father can seek custody or visitation. Some of the benefits of establishing paternity in Florida, include:

  • The child is entitled to financial support from both parents
  • The child is entitled to health insurance from both parents
  • The child can have access to their family medical history
  • The child gains the rights to an inheritance, Social Security benefits, veteran’s benefits, and military allowances
  • The child can have peace of mind knowing the identity of his or her father

How Paternity is Established in Florida

Generally, paternity is established one of two ways in Florida: 1) paternity is voluntarily established by the mother and father at the hospital after the child’s birth by signing a Paternity Acknowledgement form before a notary public, who is provided by the hospital, or 2) genetic testing (DNA testing) through a legal order.

When In Doubt About Paternity

Whether you are a mother or the alleged father, if you have any doubt about paternity, you should not sign the Paternity Acknowledgement form. Instead, it’s better to request a paternity test to confirm the father-child genetic relationship. If the mother is still pregnant, this test cannot be performed until after the child’s birth.

If you are a woman who is pregnant or has given birth to a child and you have concerns about the child’s biological father being physically abusive toward your child, you should consult with our firm before seeking a paternity test. Once paternity is established, a legal father has the right to seek custody and visitation of his child. So, this is something to discuss with your lawyer when deciding on the best course of action.

For all of your paternity and family law needs in Orlando, contact R. Gregory Colvin, LLC.

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