In France, Serge Charnay spent four days on top of a crane to protest France’s discrimination against fathers in custody battles. Charnay had only one demand — visitation rights with his son. When he finally climbed down, he told awaiting news cameras that he wanted single fathers to get the same rights as mothers.
Unfortunately, France isn’t the only country that discriminates. Florida law is blatantly prejudicial to unwed fathers. By statute, the mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to primary custody unless the court enters an order stating otherwise. Thus, it is irrelevant whether a father’s name is on the birth certificate or whether he participates in the rearing of the child.
To solidify legal custody rights, an unwed father should establish paternity and obtain time-sharing rights via a court order. In Florida, paternity for children born out of wedlock can be established in the following ways:
- If the unmarried couple signs a legal document establishing paternity
- If a genetic test proves fatherhood and an administrative order is issued
- If a judge orders paternity in court
- If the mother and biological father marry each other after the child’s birth and update the birth record through the Florida Office of Vital Statistics
A time-sharing agreement is essentially a custody order. It is a timetable that specifies the time a child will spend with each parent. This includes daily child rearing, overnight visits and holidays. Parents can jointly develop a time-sharing agreement to be approved by the court. If the parents cannot jointly agree to a time-sharing agreement, the court will establish the schedule. Even if the unwed couple lives together and raises the child together, a court ordered time-sharing agreement can protect the father’s rights in the event of the couple’s breakup.
If you are an unwed father who wants to stay involved in your child’s life, you need a court-ordered time-sharing schedule. An experienced father’s rights attorney can help ensure your parental rights remain intact.