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What Rights Do Unmarried Parents Have?

The nuclear family is becoming less and less common throughout the United States. Couples are deciding not to marry and even not to have kids. However, this trend can sometimes be legally confusing if the couple decides to split.

For example, the law in Florida automatically gives a mother parental rights to her children since she gave birth to them. Her maternity is proven. Paternity, on the other hand, is more problematic. The law assumes the child of a married, heterosexual couple is the product of that marriage. The father’s name is automatically added to the birth certificate after the event. However, an unmarried father doesn’t get the same rights.

If the parents agree to paternity at the time of the birth, they can both agree to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity Form. When they sign this document, they are acknowledging the man signing the form is the child’s legal father and swearing under oath the information is accurate. Once this is submitted, the father can claim child custody rights, and either parent can request child support if one of them is awarded physical custody in the event of their breakup.

If one parent doesn’t want to acknowledge paternity, the parent who wishes to establish a legal connection between the father and the child must ask the court to order a DNA test. This process can take a little over a month, but afterward, paternity will be established.

Without establishing paternity, unmarried parents don’t have the right to claim custody, visitation, or child support from another person. This tends to be more problematic with a couple who refuses to work with each other concerning their child’s welfare.

Talk to one of our skilled Emerald Coast family law attorneys about your case as soon as possible. Whether you’re a father who wishes to seek custody rights and visitation, or you’re a mother who wants to secure child support payments, we can help. Chesser & Barr, P.A. is dedicated to helping families by providing excellent service and compassion during the stressful time they are experiencing. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (850) 610-7471 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today!

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