Paternity: For Father's wanting to assert their rights to parent their child/children

Fathers have RIGHTS.  However, a father must file a law suit to actively assert his rights.  If a father does not do anything then he is at the whim of the mother.  Under the current law, when a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the natural guardian of the child, thus, she will have all the power to say when the father should have the child and under what circumstances and she gets all of the decision making.

When a father files a Petition for Paternity, the father is asserting his rights as the father for "time-sharing" and for a "parenting plan".  He will also want to have access to records for the school and medical.  He will also want to share in the decision making.

When a father files a Petition for Paternity, he is asserting his rights as guardian.  Also, he will be filing in the Putative Father Registry.  When he files for paternity, he will be treated as a natural guardian just like a man that was married when his children were born.   The father will then be in chapter 61 for purposes of children's issues.   


 The terminology used to be “child custody“.  This category is governed by F.S.S. 61.13 (3).  Prior to October 1, 2008 child custody was broken into two separate and distinct categories:  parental responsibility and residential custody.  Parental Responsibility was and still is termed “shared”, “sole”, and “ultimate”.  Residential custody was termed “primary/secondary” and “joint and rotating”.  After October 1, 2008, the terminology for where the child spends his or her time is no longer called “child custody”.  Now we refer to it as “time-sharing”.  “Parental responsibility” is simply the decisions you make as a parent and your rights to make decisions for your child and access records.  This has nothing to do with where the child sleeps at night.  Parental responsibility can be “shared” or “sole”.  Most parents have “shared parental responsibility”.  Only in rare and extreme incidents does one party have “sole parental responsibility”.  Such incidents are a conviction for child abuse or molestation or extreme current drug or alcohol abuse that is documented and situations supported by evidence.

 The public policy of the state of Florida under F.S.S. 61.13(2) is that BOTH PARENTS, WHETHER FATHER OR MOTHER, SHOULD HAVE SUBSTANTIAL TIME SHARING WITH THE CHILD(REN). 

 The time sharing that will be enjoyed by you will be determined by what is in the child’s best interests.  There is a list of 20 factors that the judge must consider and evaluate when making the determination as to the time sharing of the parents.  See F.S.S. 61.13(3).  A couple of those factors include the demonstrated capacity of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close continuing parent-child relationship, and the anticipated division of parental responsibilities after litigation.  The judge must now look at the schedule of the family and these factors for time sharing versus this circuit’s previous child contact schedule of every other weekend.  Though every other weekend may be appropriate, the judges are not to accept the old standard of one size fits all.    


Your case can be resolved without the use of the courts.  You can have me write a letter to the mother of your child to see whether she would participate in pre-lawsuit mediation.  I can also have a teaching session on the law for both of you. I would not be giving either one of you legal advice, but teaching you both the law then the both of you can try to come to an agreement using the Florida Supreme Court Family Law forms that we have in our office.   

See the different parenting plans in the "Forms" section.