So often I hear stories of parties living together for several years and raising a family together; however, they choose to never get married. While this is completely personal decision the individuals have a right to make, when children are involved it can be highly inadvisable. Many Fathers have the misguided belief that they have full and established rights to the child because they signed the child’s birth certificate. Unfortunately, in Florida, signing the birth certificate is merely a voluntary acknowledgment that the individual asserts that he is the Father. To gain proper status as the legal and biological Father an alleged Father must formally establish his rights and receive an Order Adjudicating him as the Father. This can be achieved by filing an Action to Establish Paternity and for Related Relief.
A Paternity Action has three (3) chief components. First, the Court needs to establish the alleged Father as the biological and legal father of the child. Second, the Court will establish parental responsibility and time-sharing. Third, the Court will establish the financial elements, including child support. All of these components can be agreed to and enumerated in a formal Parenting Plan. There are a considerable number of other elements that will be included in a Parenting Plan but the three (3) major components of the parenting plan are those mentioned above.
What often happens to Fathers is that they never pursue this process and never officially establish their rights, and this failure to assert their rights could have severe consequences. What if the parties break-up and the Mother threatens to leave Florida? Well, if there is no Parenting Plan and no formal adjudication of paternity there are limited options a Father can pursue to prevent this from happening; therefore, even if you are in a happy and harmonious relationship you need to file the Paternity Action and receive a formal adjudication. You should not delay this process any further. If you and the Mother are residing together, child support will be established at $0.00, and your rights as a Father will be protected.
Our firm has worked with Fathers in a considerable number of cases that are in happy and healthy relationships but desire to have their rights established and I assure you this is a responsible and mature decision. We simply include language that the parents are residing together as a cohesive family unit and the operative implementation of the Parenting Plan only occurs in the event the parties separate. This gives Fathers the security of knowing their rights are established and if the relationship dissolves they have a specific outline of what to do that is backed by a Court Order enforcing the provisions.
Be the Father your child needs you to be and establish your rights today. For more information on establishing paternity, parental responsibility and time-sharing issues, please contact the law firm of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates by calling 407-245-7700, by e-mailing [email protected] or by visiting the website at www.cbswlaw.com.