Do Unwed Fathers Have Any Rights?

Cohabitation without matrimony is trending. This decision doesn’t come without its risks. Case in point: Anti-marriage couples looking to start a family might not be considering all consequences if the relationship sours. Fathers in particular are impacted by this the most.

By law in Florida, an unwed father has no real custodial rights. Plain and simple, paternity needs to be established in order for this to happen.

So, how does one establish paternity for their child?

It can be established by both parties voluntarily. If that does not happen or will not happen, then filing an order with the court for review is necessary. DNA/genetic testing can then be used to determine paternity, if needed. 

This legal process needs to be completed if the father wants custodial/visitation rights. The benefits go beyond just that though.

The Florida Department of Revenue (FDOR) provides a good source for paternity FAQs. On its site, the FDOR lists some of the rights and benefits for the child, including:

  • Information on family medical history
  • The child will know the identity of his or her father
  • The father’s name is on the birth certificate
  • Health or life insurance from either parent, if available
  • Support from both parents, like child support and medical support
  • Get Social Security or veteran’s benefits, military allowances and inheritances

In addition …

Paternity gives both parents the legal right to:

  • Get a child support order
  • Get a court order for shared time with the child

Working up a parenting plan with the other party is recommended to provide the most stable environment for the child and/or children.

Splitting up — whether you are married or not — is never easy or pleasant. This is amplified when children are involved.

No matter what lifestyle decisions are made, laws and procedures are in place to protect all parties. What’s best for the children is still the most important aspect in the eyes of the court, and absolutely should be for parents.

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