As a father, you have certain rights. And, your children have certain rights. Although many of these are similar from state to state, you and your child are not guaranteed these rights unless paternity is established. Of course, if you were married to the mother of the child at the time of the birth, you are the presumed father. If you were not, you can voluntarily acknowledge paternity. If there is doubt, you can take a paternity test either requested through a court order or willingly. Most often a family law attorney helps individuals with this process.
Paternity and maternity rights are the same. Assuming there are no extenuating circumstances, such as drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse allegations, or a sex offender conviction, generally Florida law dictates that both parents have equal rights to provide input for schooling and medical decisions. More often than not, parents today have equal visitation. That is as long as both parents work’s schedules and situations allow for it.
It is not uncommon for unmarried couples to just assume they do not need to formally declare paternity. However, should that relationship end or the father die, having established paternity is the only way to guarantee the minor child receives a portion of the estate, especially if the father dies without a will. The intestate succession in Florida (meaning someone dies without a will) dictates that if someone is unmarried and has children, the children equally inherit their estate.
Steps to Take
If you have not legally established paternity, contact a family law attorney. You can jointly decide if filing an Acknowledgement of Paternity is the right course of action or if you should first take a paternity test. Next, formalize any visitation, custody, and child support necessary. Finally, have your family law attorney draw up a last will and testament or trust. They can help you decide which option is best in your situation.
Call Wagstaff & Pitelis
If you are looking for a family law attorney to help with anything from establishing paternity to custody, child support, or even drawing up a will or trust, we can help. The team at Wagstaff & Pitelis has a long history in Pinellas County with all types of family law issues. Call (727) 584-8182 today to schedule your initial consultation.