New Rights For Fathers In Fort Lauderdale Paternity Cases
As single parents, fathers previously had few options or rights when it came to paternity proceedings in Fort Lauderdale. Recent reforms in Florida family laws have changed that for the better. Our Fort Lauderdale paternity lawyer explains how the new law helps to protect fathers’ rights.
Father’s Rights In Fort Lauderdale
The Florida Statutes generally encourage having both parents play an active and engaged role in their child’s life. However, this is not necessarily the case with unmarried fathers. Single fathers generally have three basic options:
- Be listed as the father on the birth certificate, which generally requires being present at the child’s birth and having the mother’s consent;
- Signing an affidavit of paternity after birth, which also requires the mother’s cooperation;
- Pursuing paternity proceedings, which can prove they are the father but other than requiring them to pay child support, offers nothing in terms of parenting rights.
In the above cases, single fathers still need to pursue additional legal actions in order to be involved in their child’s life. However, even if they did, the system was designed to work against them.
While mothers are automatically entitled to have their children live with them and granted legal authority in making important decisions on their behalf, such as regarding the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing, the most single fathers could hope for was to get occasional visits. This changed on July 1, 2023, when sweeping reforms were passed into law.
How Florida’s New Laws Protect Father’s Rights
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1416 into law in late June of 2023. It brought major changes to the family court system, including increased rights for single fathers.
The new law changes Florida Statute 742, which sets guidelines for determining parentage and governs the parental rights of single parents. Effective July 1, 2023, unwed fathers are now granted the same status as the mother and have the same rights and responsibilities. These include:
- The responsibility to provide for the child’s basic needs;
- The right to frequent and ongoing contact with their child;
- The right to be included in a parenting plan, detailing the amount of time the child spends in each parent’s home and rights on weekends, holidays, school breaks, and other special occasions;
- The legal authority to make important decisions that impact the child.
There is one gray area in terms of Florida’s new paternity law: it is not yet clear whether it applies retroactively or only in cases of children born after July 1, 2023.
Discuss Your Options With Our Fort Lauderdale Paternity Lawyer
Changes in Florida paternity laws mean greater protections for the rights of fathers and provide an opportunity for them to play a more active role in their child’s life. To discuss how these changes could impact you and your options in terms of child time-sharing, contact Fort Lauderdale paternity lawyer Vanessa L. Prieto and request a consultation today.