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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Family Law / FAQ’s: Fathers’ Rights in Florida

FAQ’s: Fathers’ Rights in Florida


If you are an unmarried or divorced father, you probably have many questions about your legal rights. Generally, in Florida, fathers have the same legal rights as mothers when it comes to family law matters like child support and timesharing. However, things can be complicated for unmarried fathers. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about fathers’ rights in Florida in an attempt to help unmarried and divorced dads be in a better position to protect their rights.

  1. Does an unmarried father have parental rights in Florida?

Unmarried fathers in Florida do not automatically have parental rights. There are steps that an unmarried father needs to take to enact their rights. Unmarried fathers must establish paternity before being recognized as the legal father and granted parental rights.  One way for unmarried fathers to establish paternity in Florida is by them and the mother of the child signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. By signing this form, both parties state under oath that the supposed father is the child’s or the children’s legal father.   However, you should file a legal action to establish paternity and a parenting plan through the court.  If necessary, the court can order genetic testing to determine paternity.

  1. What parental rights do fathers have in Florida?

In Florida, legal fathers generally have the same parental rights as mothers. The following are some of the parental rights fathers have in Florida;

  • Fathers have the right to spend time with their children
  • Fathers have the right to access their children’s medical and educational records
  • Fathers have the right to participate in major decisions affecting their children
  • Fathers have the right to receive child support
  • Fathers have the right to seek modifications to existing child support or timesharing orders
  1. Can a father receive child support?

As stated above, one of the rights fathers have in Florida is the right to receive child support. If someone is the legal father of a child, they can be awarded child support. In the case of a divorce, the husband is presumed to be the legal father of the children born during the marriage.

  1. What if the mother denies the father the opportunity to see their child or children?

In Florida, both the mother and father have the right to spend time with their children unless the court determines that such an arrangement is not in the child’s best interests. If the mother of your child(ren) denies you visitation, there are certain steps you can take, including the following;

  • Document denials by saving text messages or emails
  • File a Petition to Establish Paternity and a Parenting Plan with the Court
  • If a parenting plan is already in place by the Court, a parent can file a motion with the court to enforce that plan

When you file a motion with the court, you notify the court that the mother of your child(ren) is not complying with the existing timesharing order. After you file your motion, the court will assess your case and may enforce the order and impose penalties on the other parent.

Contact a Lakeland Family Law Attorney

If you have questions or concerns about your parental rights as a father in Florida, contact a Lakeland family law attorney at Darla K. Snead, P.L.

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