Negotiating any type of separation can be complicated. Even if you don’t require a low cost divorce attorney, you may need legal help if you share children with your partner. It’s imperative that you have a complete understanding of the law as it pertains to your parental rights, and family law providers are just the professionals to assist you with this task. But before you ever ask a family lawyer about the particulars of your case, this FAQ for Florida fathers may be a good starting point.
If I am the Biological Father, Do I Automatically have Rights to Visitation?
Not necessarily. If you are the biological father or legally adopted father to a child or children you share with your partner, you need to obtain a Court Order to establish your legal rights. First, you will need to establish paternity. Even if your name is on your child’s birth certificate or you are already paying child support, in some cases, you may still need a DNA test to confirm your relationship (particularly if you and the mother of your child never legally married). After paternity is definitively determined, you can petition the court to claim your rights. Following that step, the court will likely help establish a time sharing and parental responsibility plan.
Is it Likely that I will have Shared Custody of my Children?
The concept of ‘custody’ has been replaced with the term ‘time sharing’ or ‘shared parental responsibility.’ In around 29% of such cases, decisions are made without third-party involvement (like from a judge). Still, judiciary intervention may be warranted when partners cannot agree to a time sharing plan on their own. Whether or not you’re also in need of a low cost divorce attorney, you could likely benefit from professional assistance when dealing with family law issues like these. In many cases, co-parents will get equal time with (and have equal responsibility for) their children. But because each case is unique, it’s best to seek the advice from an experienced family law attorney.
Do I Have Rights in Addition to Physical Time with my Child?
If you have shared parental responsibility, you’ll also have a right to know about the activities in which your child participates. You must also be included in decisions involving your child’s education, healthcare, religion, and other key areas. You will also be granted access to your child’s educational and medical records and will be listed on emergency contact sheets. In addition, you retain the right to be informed of your child’s location at all times (addresses, contact numbers, and names of others involved) and have the right to grant or object from consent if your child’s mother wishes to relocate.
What Factors Might Impact my Parental Rights?
Fathers do have the same rights as mothers under the law, but the court can alter these rights if they see a reason to. Such reasons might include moral fitness, mental health, use of alcohol or drugs, abuse, violence, abandonment, and more. If a judge finds evidence that a father is unfit in any way or that his lifestyle is unhealthy for the children to be around, his parental rights could be drastically reduced or even eliminated.
If you are currently going through a separation and children are involved, you need an experienced, low cost divorce attorney or family lawyer to help you through this time and ensure your rights are protected. For more information, contact us today.