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Effective July 1, 2023, a new Florida law creates a revised procedure for unmarried fathers to establish paternity, child support and visitation. The result is that many unwed fathers can now receive parental rights that were previously exclusive to the mother of a newborn child. Under prior law, without a court order establishing a timesharing schedule and parental responsibility, an alleged father often found himself without clearly defined parental rights. Now, once paternity is established, the father automatically receives full parental rights.
The previous law deemed the mother of a child born out of wedlock to be the natural guardian of the child, making her entitled to primary residential care and custody unless a court entered an order stating otherwise. This meant that an alleged father had to establish paternity before being able to petition a court to determine parental responsibility and timesharing. This process sometimes left unmarried alleged fathers without any parental rights to the child, even if both parents acknowledged that he was the biological father and had established paternity. Shared parental responsibility did not apply until a court order was issued to that effect.
The new law, titled Shared Parental Responsibility after Establishment of Paternity, revises crucial aspects of this process. After the birth of a child, either parent may now request a determination of parental responsibility and child support, along with the creation of a parenting plan and timesharing schedule. This means that unwed fathers no longer have to go through a separate and often cumbersome process just to secure these parental rights.
The new law also mandates that in an action to establish paternity, the court must simultaneously determine parental responsibility, create a parenting plan and establish a timesharing schedule, in addition to issuing an order determining child support obligations. This streamlines the process and ensures that both parents’ rights and responsibilities are addressed comprehensively.
Furthermore, the new law clarifies that unwed mothers as well as fathers who have established paternity are both considered natural guardians of the child. As such, they share the rights and responsibilities associated with raising the child. This means that fathers have an equal stake in their children’s lives from the moment they are born.
If you find yourself dealing with child custody and support issues in Florida, it’s essential to have professional and compassionate legal representation. The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. understands the sensitive nature of these matters and can assist you every step of the way. Call us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in family law matters.