Unmarried parents meeting with attorney on child custody rights

Orlando Family Team frequently assists unmarried couples as they deal with child custody rights. Though children have been born to unmarried couples for thousands of years, modern society has largely destigmatized the process. In view of the numerous celebrities and everyday people raising kids as single or unmarried parents, questions about child custody rights for unmarried parents have become increasingly common. 

If you need legal advice concerning your rights and legal protections as an unmarried parent, the Florida child custody attorneys of Orlando Family Team are well-prepared to provide you with help right now when you need it most. We know how essential it is for you to establish a strong relationship with your kid from the beginning of her or his life and we will assist you in ensuring that occurs.

Why Child Custody Issues of Unmarried Parents Have Become Complicated

Clearly, it is easier for mothers to prove parenthood than for fathers to do so, since, in the vast majority of cases, the offspring is carried and given birth to by its mother. Nonetheless, the modern world is a complicated place in which a baby may have two mothers, two fathers, or two parents of fluid or indeterminate gender. Ours is also a world in which two parents may use a surrogate mother to carry their child or produce a child through various artificial means.

As far as the law is concerned, if a child is born to, or adopted by, two married parents, those two individuals are the child’s parents. Even if the child was created by another man’s sperm, the husband is presumed to be that child’s father. On the other hand, if the parents choose not to marry, or if a male parent is unaware of fathering the child until well after the birth, until there is medical/legal intervention only the birth mother has custody rights.

What about lesbian, bisexual and non-cisgender parents?

If you do not identify as a person whose gender is the same as your gender at birth, it can be even more complicated to win custody or visitation rights. This is especially true if your egg or sperm were not used in your child’s conception. In complex matters like this, working with a determined, compassionate child custody attorney is absolutely essential.

How Heterosexual Unmarried Parents Prove Their Right to Child Custody

Although the unmarried father may have his name on the child’s birth certificate, and may even participate in the child’s birth, he is not automatically awarded parental rights to custody or visitation. This is why if you are an unwed father, it is crucial that you obtain strong legal representation if you want to be active in your child’s life — assuming that the mother of your child is uncooperative. 

Two Types of Child Custody in Orlando, Florida

Florida recognizes two types of child custody: legal and physical. Physical custody is determined by where the child lives most of the time. Depending on legal agreements, once both individuals are recognized as legitimate parents, physical custody may be joint or sole (limited to one parent). In the case of the latter, the noncustodial parent will be awarded regular parenting time unless that person poses a danger to the child.

Legal custody is almost always given to both parents. This means that both will have the right to make decisions about their child’s healthcare, education, and religious upbringing.

How an Unmarried Father’s Rights to Child Custody Are Determined

In order to prove his right to be included in child custody arrangements, the father must undergo a paternity test. Such tests were not always available and only became precise within the last several decades. Since then, it is a simple matter for a father to prove his legal right to a full-fledged relationship with his child. In Florida, once paternity is proven, the father is granted custody rights and becomes responsible for providing substantive support for his offspring.

Why Taking a Paternity Test Is the Right Thing to Do

No matter what the nature of your present relationship with your unmarried partner, taking a paternity test is a necessary move to protect your future. Establishing your paternity, if possible before the baby’s birth, can save you a great deal of emotional pain because, if it is positive, it will ensure your legal connection to your child from the get-go. 

Taking a paternity test may also save you a great deal financially since if the test is negative you will be spared many years of being responsible for supporting a child that is not your biological kin. This is because in Florida, once you sign the birth certificate, you can be held responsible for providing economic support until you prove that you are not the child’s biological father. 

Facts You Should Know Before Making a Parenting Plan in Florida

Before you work on or agree to a parenting plan, you should be aware of three important facts relative to child support:

  1. Child support is required of both parents, unmarried as well as married
  2. Amounts of child support are decided in terms of parental incomes, assets, and how much care each parent provides — not because of one parent’s gender or gender identification
  3. Even though our legal team never thinks being late on child support payments is a good idea, this failure does not affect either parent’s right to custody or visitation

Contact Our Experienced Child Custody Attorneys as Soon as Possible

If you are unmarried, whether you are presently helping to raise your kid(s) or not, and whether you suspect a child is yours or know for sure, you need the help Orlando Family Team can provide. We will fight hard to keep you connected to your child and to protect them from harm, even if at first one of these tasks seems impossible. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.