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The Rights of Unwed Fathers in Tampa, FL


Several new laws have been passed recently that shift the playing field for fathers. Today, unwed fathers in Florida automatically have parental rights over their children. This is a shift from the past when the Florida courts would automatically assign custody and responsibility rights to mothers.

Decisions related to paternity have significant implications for parents and children. If you are an unwed parent in Tampa, FL, it is imperative that you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding your child. In this article, the Tampa, FL paternity lawyers at Westchase Law, P.A. will discuss what rights and responsibilities unwed fathers have regarding their children.

Understanding paternity rights in Tampa, FL 

Before Florida’s laws were changed, a child who was born out of wedlock would have their mother be their natural guardian. There were legal moves a father could make to establish his paternity rights. A father could choose to be listed on the birth certificate or sign a paternity affidavit. If neither of these avenues was pursued, the father was not considered the legal guardian of the child.

Today, the matter is handled differently. In terms of parental responsibility, fathers are assumed to be legal guardians of the child. This means that they have decision-making power over the child. Key decisions a father will have to make include where the child will reside, where the child will go to school, medical decisions that need to be made by the parents, and whether or not they will be involved in religious education. The shift in the law gave unwed fathers more rights (and responsibilities) over their children.

Florida dads who want to spend more time with their children

If you are a Florida dad who wants to spend more time with your children, there are several things that you should be doing. You will need to discuss the matter with a legal professional in order to first establish paternity. Once paternity has been established, you will be able to explore your role as a father in your child’s life. This includes:

  • Parenting time – Fathers have a right to request a reasonable parenting plan or timesharing schedule with the mother. This is so that you can spend time with your child and be involved in their upbringing.
  • Decision-making power – Fathers have a right to be involved in making significant decisions on behalf of their children. This includes education, health care, and religious instruction.
  • Access to information – Legal fathers have a right to access information regarding a child’s schooling and health care as well as important events in the child’s life.

Florida rules have shifted the playing field for Florida fathers. The courts now default on the notion that having both parents in the child’s life is better than only having the mother. If you have any questions or concerns regarding paternity, please don’t hesitate to contact Westchase Law, P.A. today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

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