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Children Born Out of Wedlock

In the first scenario, if you are the mother, and there is no court order, Florida law says you are the natural, legal custodian of the child. You have all the say so about what happens with the child. For example, you have the last word about what name the child receives on the birth certificate. You can take the child with you wherever you need to go without seeking the father’s permission. You can deny the father from seeing the child. You make all of the final decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, regarding healthcare, schooling, after school activities, and any other needs the child may have. You could put the child up for adoption. Because you are the mother, and there is no court order, you need not confer with anyone about how to raise this child. (Fla. Stat. §744.301)

In the second scenario, if you are the father, and there is no court order, you have no rights to visit with the child. This is why it is so important for you to file a petition to establish your rights. In this petition, you can establish paternity, time sharing and child support. Paternity is usually established by either DNA testing or having your name on the child’s birth certificate. Once paternity is established, you can then discuss the time sharing arrangements through a parenting plan, and work out the child support obligation under Florida guidelines. (Fla. Stat. §61.30) Unless and until there is a Court order, you have no rights to your child as their father.

Finally, if you are the father, and there is no court order, and you are not worried about visitation with your child, you need not do anything. Of course, the problem arises when the Florida Department of Revenue – DOR – comes after you for child support. Understand that you have to pay child support regardless of whether you see your child. Child support and child custody are two separate issues under Florida law. So, if you are paying child support, make sure you establish your rights to see your child. If you establish your visitation with your child after child support is ordered, you may be able to lower your monthly child support payment. You will also have a relationship with your child.

If you are a single man, and you have a child with a married woman, you have no rights to your child if the married woman decides to go back with her husband. But………that’s another article.

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