Who’s your Daddy?
A classic, bad faith move in a nasty divorce or breakup is to limit or eliminate a father’s visitation rights with their child. But as co parents, this is not OK and is often not in the best interests of your shared minor child. Children deserve to have two parents when possible. So what can you do? How do you get your baby back?
The first question that needs to be answered is, were you and your ex married? This one detail can affect your position substantially.
In Florida, when a mother is married and gives birth, the law assumes the child’s father is the mother’s husband. If the mother is married but does not list her husband’s name on the child’s birth certificate, paternity must be established. If your name is on the child’s birth certificate, and both you and your ex agree that you’re the father, then there is nothing in dispute, and paternity is established. A smart mother will not lie about this because it could limit her rights to recover child support if she has a right to the same. Additionally, you may have health insurance benefits or government benefits that are available for the child. If both parties agree that you are the father, then you and your ex can sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.
If there is no acknowledgment, then you are what is referred to as a putative father. A putative father is a man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established but claims to be the father or who is alleged to be the father of a child who is born to a woman to whom he is not married at the time of the child’s birth. In order to be declared the father, either you or your ex need to commence a court proceeding to establish paternity. Your first step is to complete Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.983(a), Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief (11/15). Once this form is completed, you will need to notify your ex by serving them with a copy of the Petition, that way everyone involved knows that your seeking assistance from the courts to confirm your custodial rights. A judge can establish paternity by court order. Based on the evidence, the judge may issue an order that says the man is the child’s father. A judge can also establish paternity in other kinds of court actions, such as divorce or dependency.
What if you are unmarried when the child was born, but later got married? If the mother is unmarried when the child is born, but later marries the child’s father, the husband becomes the legal father. When this happens, the father’s name is not automatically added to the child’s birth certificate, and paternity may need to be established in the event of a divorce.
Don’t risk your rights to your child Just because you didn’t give birth, doesn’t mean that you are any less a parent. If you need to establish paternity or need assistance in negotiating fair time-sharing, reach out to L. Turner Law, P.A.’s family division. We focus on Dad’s rights, and we will show that fathers are just as important as mothers in your child’s life.