Protecting the rights of unmarried fathers in Central Florida
In Florida the mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child. The biological father’s paternity and the rights that go with it, by contrast, must first be established. Biological Father’s may establish their rights by filing an action for Paternity. This does not necessarily mean that a Paternity Test must be performed, but instead means that the Father is petitioning the court to establish his identity as the biological father and to thereafter establish a parenting plan between him and the child.
Once Paternity is established, whether by admission of the parties or other method, the biological father stands on equal ground with the Mother and the Court or the parties may devise a parenting plan based on the best interest of the child.
Prior to the formal establishment of Paternity, a man who believes he is the biological father of a child born out of wedlock should file a Notice with the Florida Putative Father Registry. Filing with this registry acts as Notice to all persons that there is a claim of paternity and any action filed concerning the child, such as a Petition to Adopt the child, will have to be provided to the person claiming Paternity.
If an unmarried man believes he is the father of a child, but fails to register with the Putative Father Registry, he may forever lose his right to the child if the Mother places the child for adoption. In such cases, the Father may not have the right to set aside the adoption because of his failure to register. Contested “Parental Authority” and Parenting Plan cases require expert testimony and several days of trial.