Unmarried with Children: Your child custody rights in Florida

Unmarried with Children: Your child custody rights in Florida

Child Custody Out Of Wedlock – Legal Issues

Unmarried parents often deal with a number of difficult situations when it comes to child custody and child support. An unwed mother might find that the father of her child refuses to acknowledge paternity and refuses to pay child support.  An unmarried father whose partner contests his paternity may find it impossible to receive custody rights or visitation with his child. In some cases, an unmarried father may be forced to pay child support for a child that is not his.

While most people understand child support, custody and time-sharing in terms of the divorce process, parents who were not married at the time a child was born have the same rights to seek these things on behalf of their children. When it comes to the rights of parents in Florida, the law does distinguish between married parents and unmarried parents. Regardless of your marital status though, you do have certain rights regarding the custody and support of your child. The one big difference is that parents who are not married have to establish their rights through a paternity action. A court-ordered DNA test may be required to identify the biological father.

As the relationship ends for unmarried parents, both the Mother and Father have to understand the importance of a paternity determination. Mothers should know that although a Father’s name may not appear on a child’s birth certificate, the Father may have the right to have it added. Fathers need to know that they must fill out the Florida Putative Father Registry form in order to start the process of establishing your rights.

When it comes to the rights of parents in Florida, the law does distinguish between married parents and unmarried parents.

Regardless of your marital status though, your child(ren) come first. A child is entitled to financial support from both parties. Of course, before child support provisions can be made, you have to establish paternity. Note that while the Department of Revenue (DOR) is helpful on obtaining child support, DOR may incorrectly calculate child support because it does not participate in certain discovery practices to determine the accuracy of the parties’ incomes and parents could receive less or must pay more than required by law. additionally, DOR does not have the ability to represent parents on other issues involving custody, timesharing, residence of the child and relocation.

An experienced Family Law and Custody Attorney, can help both unmarried mother and fathers establish their rights as it relates to their children and assist in obtaining the correct amount of child support. As with any rights however, there are rights come responsibilities. Your Attorney should take great care in explaining these responsibilities before moving forward with any actions.

While unmarried fathers do have the right to be involved with their children, these rights are not automatic. As is often stated,

The state can determine where the baby came from but the deposit is harder to figure out…

The bottom line is that you have to establish paternity. After that step is taken, your attorney can work with you to establish a parenting plan for your child that makes sense for your situation. Keep in mind that even if you and your child’s parent have an informal agreement already worked out, it is very important to formalize that agreement to protect the child and to make it clear.



A Cautionary Tale: Divorce Leads to High Emotions

A Cautionary Tale: Divorce Leads to High Emotions

Heightened Emotions during a divorce can lead to Abuse

All too often when clients are first dealing with the throes of divorce or separation, the emotions involved run high. There is an old adage that says that criminal lawyers see people at their best and divorce lawyers see people at their worst.

Sometimes, however, emotions can run too high and things can turn violent.  Attorneys and judges work very hard to keep this from happening. That said, in April of 2011, Catie Scott-Gonzalez was brutally beaten by her husband, Paul Gonzalez, after a judge ordered that he pay child support. According to an ABC News report, Gonzalez told the judge he was going to take his children and nobody was going to see them again. When Catie looked to see the judge’s response, Gonzalez came after her from behind and started strangling her with his left hand and started hitting her on her face with his right hand. The first blow to her head knocked her unconscious. Bailiffs had to taser Gonzalez twice to subdue him.  Catie spent three days in the hospital with a broken nose, fractured cheekbone and broken jaw. She was so badly beaten that her children, Isabella, 2, and Nathaniel, 3, didn’t recognize their mother.  This incident took place in the judge’s chambers.

Although child custody, child support, and divorce are difficult issues which can and do put a great deal of stress on both the individual spouses and the families, no person has the right to let stress turn into violence or to hurt another person physically (or emotionally or mentally for  that matter).  The point is that in the above situation, because of his poor choices, Gonzalez will now face serious criminal charges, jeopardizing his parenting time and his children will be without child support while he serves time in jail.

Family law issues can become extremely complex.  Securing strong legal representation from an attorney who knows Florida divorce law is the first step toward the outcome you deserve.  If you are concerned about what will happen to your children, the future of your home and other assets, or the overall costs of divorce, please schedule an initial consultation with experienced family law attorney.

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