Fathers, do you know your Rights?

By |2018-10-08T13:33:56+00:00October 8th, 2018|Family Law|0 Comments

If you have just found out that your girlfriend or your ex-girlfriend is having your baby, we are talking to you today, our soon-to-be dads.

Okay, so you’ve just found out that your girlfriend or your ex-girlfriend has peed on a stick with two lines, it’s positive and you’re having a baby. What do you need to do? One, congratulations. You’re going to be a dad! And number two, take a deep breath and calm down, collect your head. It’s going to be okay.

Father’s Rights

From a legal perspective, what do you need to know? Well, the first thing you need to know is that in Florida, paternity laws are slightly different than what happens if you have a baby in the bounds of marriage. And this is something that our dads that are expecting a baby really need to be aware of because there is this little archaic glitch in the law, which does not afford you much protection until you actually go and seek out that protection.

So what do I mean? Paternity laws in Florida really only afford you the legal rights of your children if you make a pro-active move to claim those rights. So if a baby is born out of wedlock, to a mother, the law presumes that that mom is a 100% the parent, 100% responsible for that child and has 100% of the time sharing.

Now, it’s okay if you guys are working together and she’s sharing some of the responsibilities but until you go and get that court document that says, “Yes, I am the dad and I have court ordered time sharing,” your rights are very, very, very minimal.

Florida Punitive Father’s Registry

What is the other thing you need to do? Well, before the baby is born there is something called the Florida Punitive Father’s Registry. Especially if you’re broken up with your girlfriend and especially if your girlfriends in another relationship, you want to make sure that if there’s any chance that that baby could be adopted to another person that you register on the Florida Punitive Father’s Registry.

This is vital. This basically says if a baby is put up for adoption that there is a birth father, at least a man who believes he is the birth father and that no adoption should go on until there is a contact made with that birth father. Legally, if you are the birth father, the child cannot be placed for adoption without your consent. And this protects those rights.

One other main thing about the Florida Punitive Fathers Registry and what happens if you have a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend that is pregnant with your baby and you are not married is a big problem for all of our dads out there who are expecting and they’re not sure what to expect with the relationship on the other end. If the mother of your baby gets married before your baby is born, the new husband is presumed to be the legal father.

And this presumption is almost impossible to overcome. I have tried it before. I have tried to appeal this kind of cast to the first DCA and the laws are so hard and such a bright line on this issue that if your ex-girlfriend or girlfriend marries another man and that baby is born to, that marriage then it is very likely that that new husband will be the father, not you.

So what do you need to practically do?

Well, practically speaking, you probably want to make sure that she doesn’t get married to someone else. You also want to make sure that you protect your rights – you establish yourself as the birth parent on the birth certificate. Do not allow the new legal father to claim those rights and make sure that you have done everything that you can to make sure that everyone knows that you’re the father.

I hope this was helpful information to all of our dads-to-be out there. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We hope that you will continue to watch and subscribe and thanks for spending a minute with me today.

About the Author:

Autumn Beck Blackledge is a Family Law Attorney in Pensacola, Florida. She is one of only two Certified Collaborative Divorce Attorneys in the Florida Panhandle. For more information on Collaborative Divorce, contact her at (850) 466-3115 or at info@autumnobeck.com.

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