Father’s Rights

The Florida Supreme Court held that unmarried dads can pursue their rights, even if the mother was married to someone else.

Father’s Rights took a nice step in the right direction recently.

The Florida Supreme Court held that unmarried dads can pursue their rights, even if the mother was married to someone else. This set aside a decades old approach that was long overdue. Before this ruling, unmarried dads could not pursue such rights. Children whose mothers were married were considered “legitimate.” In other words, they already have both a father and mother. No one else could set that aside without the consent of both the mom and her husband. 

I think this change for Father’s Rights is long overdue.

The Florida statute includes information about who acts upon the needs of the kids, and who facilitates a relationship with the other parent. For decades, married dads have not needed a court order to keep their kids. They are considered natural guardians of their children. Unmarried dads, however, have to secure their rights through court. They have no parental rights until a judge awards them. That is still the law.

However, unmarried dads — until now — couldn’t even pursue those rights if the mother was married. The Florida Supreme Court opened the door to these fathers seeking their rights, and it’s a great step forward. 

Once a case is filed, it’s easy to pursue those rights. Courts do no give any preference to either parent in deciding on a case-plan. Both parents are given a chance to show the Court why his or her parenting plan is best for the children.

The Florida statute includes information about who acts upon the needs of the kids, and who facilitates a relationship with the other parent. Other factors include the home and school record of the child, the extent to which each parent is flexible and honors the schedule,  and other things like work hours and distance between the homes.

Shared parental responsibility

In addition to time with a child, unmarried dads can obtain another important right – shared parental responsibility. This means that parents have to consult each other regarding major decisions. Both parents have the right to speak with teachers and doctors. Both parents are entitled to school and medical records. Neither parent is more important or has a greater say. There are a few cases where this may not work. In those cases, one parent receives sole parental responsibility. But this is a rare occurrence. 

Children benefit usually from the input and assistance of both parents. Kids often are also helped by grandparents, but those rights are still limited. Please call us if we can be of assistance.