It not unusual for men to have children later in life or to have them in an unmarried relationship. People who have gone through one divorce may be reluctant to marry a second time. However, that does not mean that men do not want to have children with their new partner.
Raising children in an unmarried relationship can result in an unexpected problem if you break up with your partner. Your former partner may cut off contact with your children. To protect your rights as a father, you will need to establish paternity.
Unmarried fathers in Florida do not automatically have decision-making or visitation rights. You may had a close and loving relationship with your child, but that does not mean you have the right to see him or her if the mother cuts off visits. For children born outside of marriage in Florida, the mother receives 100 percent of parenting decision-making and parental time-sharing rights unless the father establishes paternity. Decision-making and time-sharing are the legal terms for child custody in Florida.
With a court order establishing parenting rights for the father, mother can cut off visits or even remove the child from Florida without permission from the father or the court. To obtain child custody rights, the father must first establish paternity. Once you have established that you are the father, you can obtain decision-making and time-sharing rights.
In Florida, you can establish paternity in one of two ways:
- If your former partner agrees you are the father, the court can establish paternity without a DNA test.
- If you and your former partner do not agree, you will need to take a DNA test.
Thompson Family Law, P.A. in Fort Myers helps fathers establish their right to have a continuing relationship their children following the breakup of an unmarried relationship.