The role a parent plays in the life of a child can have a major impact on their long-term well-being and overall happiness. Children will typically be happiest when they have loving and supportive relationships with both of their parents. The state will usually seek to uphold a child’s best interests when there are issues related to the care and custody of a minor child.
When parents no longer live together or share a romantic relationship, the state will grant parental responsibilities to both adults, provided that they assert their rights in family court. Divorcing parents will have to come up with a custody arrangement for the courts to review and approve. Those who never married often come up with their own informal custody arrangements, and fathers may not understand what rights they have.
Fathers in Florida can ask for shared custody even if they never married the mother of their children, but they will need to establish paternity first. How does an unmarried father establish paternity?
Some families establish paternity early
The simplest and most common means of establishing paternity as an unmarried father is to cooperate with the mother to have the father’s name added to the birth certificate. Often, couples include an unmarried father’s name on the birth certificate right at the hospital by filling out simple paperwork.
A Paternity Acknowledgment will ensure that the state includes the father on the birth certificate immediately. If they did not take that step, the parents still have the option of cooperatively adding the father’s name to the birth certificate at any point while the child is still a minor. Signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form can add a father to a child’s birth certificate at any point before they turn 18.
If the mother will not voluntarily execute paperwork to acknowledge the father’s paternity, he can ask the family courts for assistance. Court-ordered genetic testing can validate a man’s claim that he has a parental relationship with a child and assist in his efforts to establish paternity.
Once a father has formally established maternity with the state of Florida, he can then proceed to request time sharing and other parental rights. Understanding the importance of establishing paternity might motivate unmarried fathers to affirm their relationship with their child to the state.