The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

The question of Baby Daddy’s and their rights in Florida is one that is a bit complicated. This is because first, there is the question of the lack of prior court orders and/or precedents governing time sharing or child support. The provision of the law that caters for a child born out of wedlock with regards to this issue is found under Florida Statute 744.301 which states as follows: "The mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to primary residential care and custody of the child unless a court of competent jurisdiction enters an order stating otherwise."

What this basically means is that upon the failure to agree on timesharing between both parents, it is the mother who is entitled by the law to decide on timesharing which in Florida basically refers to “custody”. This essentially means that the fate of a baby daddy with regards to his right to visit his child and/or children alongside any other decision involving the child basically lies in the child’s mother. The assumption here is that the mother will make every decision pertaining to the child with the child’s best interest in mind. As such, it is presumed that the mother should in theory give the father some time sharing being that he is the legal father as recognized in the child’s birth certificate and therefore the child’s best interest ought to prevail. An unmarried Father also referred to as the “Baby Daddy” theoretically has "rights" to the children, despite the fact that he is most likely not able to enforce those rights.

In cases where a baby daddy has been denied visitation rights by the child’s mother, the unmarried father has the option of filing a "Petition to Establish Paternity." This petition will allow him to request that the Court create a parenting plan to govern parental sharing by both parties. This is likely to result in the Father being awarded timesharing as well as "shared parental responsibility" with the mother. This essentially means that both parties shall have equal rights to access the child's records and determine major decisions in the child's life despite the fact that the mother to the child shall in most cases have more timesharing.

If you or someone you know has a similar issue, contact our office for a consultation.