Families come in all sizes and types, including those created outside the institution of marriage. While orders (or agreements) for child support, custody, and visitation are part of the divorce process when minor children are involved, those arrangements are no less important for the children of unmarried parents. The birth mother's parentage is established at birth, but the father is only positively established through a voluntarily acknowledgment or through genetic testing (as ordered by the court).
Establishment of Parentage Comes First
It's a much easier process if the father voluntarily acknowledges his parentage, but sometimes it's necessary to establish paternity through a court order (in such cases, the court will order a DNA test). In some cases, a father who is denied parentage by the mother will seek a court order for a DNA test in order to seek visitation or custody.
A father who has established paternity can petition for custody and/or visitation time with his children, depending on the details of their case, and the mother can petition for child support and other benefits. This is true in Florida and in other states. When determining custody and visitation, each parent must complete a parenting plan (see forms below) before appearing in court.
Protection for Unmarried Parents in Florida: The Basics
If you're a single parent, you most likely have very little spare time to brush up on your legal chops. But you have a family to maintain and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a parent is crucial. Therefore, we've provided the following "plain English" summary of Florida's laws and procedures pertaining to unmarried parents.
How to Establish Paternity
To voluntarily establish parentage, both natural parents of the child must sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity in the presence of a notary public or before two witnesses.
If the father has not acknowledged his parentage , you will need to establish paternity by filing a Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief.
Family Law Forms for Unmarried Parents
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Protection for Unmarried Parents in Florida: Related Resources
Learn More About Your Rights as an Unmarried Parent: Call a Lawyer
Whether or not parents are married, their children still benefit from their financial support and -- depending on the circumstances -- their presence. If you're a single parent seeking support from the noncustodial parent, would like to gain visitation with your child, or have any other needs concerning the rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents, consider speaking with a Florida family law attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.