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Fathers' rights are not presumed when parents are unmarried

Florida's married parents have numerous legal benefits and rights that unmarried parents do not. Fathers' rights is one of the areas where married fathers have the upper hand. The law presumes that any child born of the marriage is the biological offspring of the husband, which gives him all of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. This same presumption does not exist when a father is not married to the mother when the child is born.

This means that an unwed father needs to legally establish his rights and responsibilities as a biological father. You may be thinking that since your name is on the birth certificate, that is enough. Unfortunately, it is not. Even if you and the child's mother remain together, you do not have full parental rights to your child until the state of Florida recognizes you as the child's legal father.

You will need to file a paternity action in order to obtain this recognition if you and the mother failed to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the time the child was born. Evidence will need to be presented to the court indicating that you are the biological father of the child. DNA testing is only part of this evidence.

More than just custody, visitation and child support ride on establishing legal paternity. Fathers' rights to medical records, school records and decisions made about the child's future require that you be legally recognized as the child's father. A family law attorney can guide you through the legal process, help ensure that everything goes as planned and assist you with any issues that might arise. 

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