This is the next post in my series on the rights of Florida fathers. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney, as soon as possible, if you are involved in a child custody dispute. It is important that you speak with counsel as soon as possible so that you may initiate Court proceedings in a timely manner. Waiting to do so may result in the Court believing that the “status quo” should be maintained. In this article I will discuss a commonly misunderstood topic – the actual “rights” of Florida dads. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Florida is like many other states in that it considers the rights of a father as being equal to those of a mother. In spite of this legal structure, many parents (both mothers and fathers) operate under mistaken beliefs as to how the law operates. It is not uncommon for one, or both, parents to believe that a mom has “all the rights” when a custody order is not in place. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Court will begin any child custody case with the belief that the parents should share the child equally. The Court will only deviate from this presumption of joint custody if a shared arrangement would be against the best interests of the child. When deciding what is in a child’s best interests, the Court will consider factors such as:
- The wishes of the child (depending on their age and maturity)
- The historical relationship between the child and each parent
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s needs
- Any history of violence between the parties
- The willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between their counterpart and the child
While these are not the only factors the Court will consider, the important point to remember is that the gender of either parent will not be considered.
The foregoing concepts only apply if paternity has already been established. If unmarried parents have a child, and the father is not on the birth certificate, then the dad will have no rights or obligations under Florida law. This means that the father will have no right to visitation, to information (such as school records), and to make decisions (such as to consent to medical care for the child). Likewise, the dad will have no obligations to pay child support, to provide medical insurance, or to share in medical expenses, etc. Once paternity has been established, however, the Courts will often require a father to pay back child support and past medical expenses. Also, depending on the circumstances, the Court may order that a dad also receive “compensatory visitation” in order to make up for time that he has missed with his son or daughter. It is important to remember that how the Court will rule, in any given situation, is always going to depend on the specific facts of the case.
If you are a dad and are concerned about your situation, then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne fathers’ rights lawyer. I understand that nothing is more important than one’s family. My office prides itself on providing quality service and we believe that everyone is entitled to aggressive representation. Call today to speak with an attorney. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.