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The Florida Bar - Marital & Family Law
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Legal Tips for Unwed Fathers

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Paternity on Thursday, October 17, 2013.

The family law system can sometimes be daunting to unwed fathers. Unwed fathers can face challenges when attempting to assert their rights as fathers. Fathers are not given parental rights simply by signing a birth certificate. A court will need to confirm paternity and give the unwed father rights to the child; however, an obligation to support a child can exist without the court confirming paternity.

Other aspects of the family law process that unwed fathers may not be aware of is that if a woman applies for state assistance, the government can initiate an action to collect support for the child. It is also important for unwed fathers to understand that paying child support does not include the right to spend time with the child. Because important child support and child custody issues depend on the family law process, the best choice for an unwed father is to file a paternity action to establish the rights and obligations he has as the father of the child.

As the goal of many fathers is to develop a positive and consistent relationship with the child by spending time with them, fathers seeking parental rights can do so by first establishing paternity through a paternity test. Following the determination of paternity, the court will enter an order which confirms paternity.

Once paternity has been established, an unwed father can proceed by requesting visitation rights or present a custody issue if that is what the father desires. The first step in the process, however, is establishing paternity and a trained family law attorney can help walk any party through that process.

Source: ABC Action News, "Five important things that unwed fathers need to know," Yvette Harrell, Oct. 8, 2013

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