Jacksonville FL Fathers’ Rights Lawyers
What Are Fathers’ Rights in Florida?
There is no question that it is in the best interest of children to have a continuing and supportive relationship with both parents after a divorce or separation. The family dynamic is shaken when a divorce occurs. There is a good reason why a divorced family is referred to as a “broken home.” Often, divorced and unmarried fathers get the short end of the stick in legal proceedings involving their children. We see that courts still in this day and age favor mothers when it comes to custody and visitation disputes.
In such extenuating circumstances, it is imperative that a father retain the services of an experienced Jacksonville family lawyer who will fight aggressively to protect his rights when it comes to issues such as child custody, child support, visitation and paternity. The knowledgeable Florida family law attorneys at Farah & Farah will work diligently to ensure that your rights as a father are upheld and that you are treated fairly by the family court system.
Florida Fathers’ Visitation Rights
State law requires a man to be the biological father or the legally adopted father of the child in order to be entitled to visitation rights. Any man in Florida has the right to insist on a DNA test in order to prove paternity and claim his rights as a father. When paternity is established, the court will enter what is known as a “paternity order,” legally declaring that the individual is the father of the child. Once this order is entered, the father will have visitation rights and will be responsible for paying child support.
Fathers in Florida are entitled to a number of visitation rights including:
- Shared visitation and contact with the child including over the phone and via e-mail or the Internet.
- Have the court spell out the visitation schedule if the parties are unable to come to a consensus.
- Ask the court to enforce the visitation order if his visitation rights are not being respected.
- Ask the court to change the original visitation agreement depending on the circumstances.
- Knowing what activities your child is involved in and participating in those activities.
The court, however, will consider a number of factors before determining the custody and visitation rights for fathers in Florida. For example, a judge may look at the father’s ability to provide for the child. The court may examine other issues such as the health of the father, his mental and emotional stability, his character and ability to provide a consistent and stable routine for the child. The court will also look at other evidence against the father such as domestic violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse, child endangerment or neglect.
Rights of Unwed Fathers in Florida
Unwed fathers usually face tremendous challenges as they try to assert their rights. There are a few important things unwed fathers should know in order to ensure that their legal rights are protected. First of all, signing your child’s birth certificate does not mean that you have asserted your rights as a father. Only a court order can confirm paternity. The father must file an action to establish paternity in order to have the court recognize him as the child’s father.
If the mother of your child applies for food stamps, Medicaid or some form of government assistance, the state of Florida will initiate child support action against you regardless of whether the mother of your child wants to pursue it. This is the government’s way of making sure that the dad is providing for the child. It is also in your best interest as the father to file a petition in court to establish your rights and obligations clearly. Although your relationship with your ex may be amicable today that might not be the case in the future. You do not want to put your visitation rights in the hands of your former girlfriend.
Finally, it is important for unwed dads to understand that child support has nothing to do with visitation rights. Even if you don’t see your child, you must pay child support. A father’s payment of child support in Florida does not automatically give him timesharing or visitation rights. Those rights must be specifically granted through a court order.
Protect Your Rights
Family law and laws relating to fathers’ rights often change in Florida. Fathers have rights and responsibilities – regardless of whether they are married or unwed. The Jacksonville family law attorneys at Farah & Farah can help safeguard your rights as a father. We will use our knowledge, skill and experience to protect your future and your child’s future so that you are not caught in a web of legal uncertainties. Please contact us at (904) 263-4610 for a no-cost consultation.