As the father of a child, the relationship you have with your son or daughter should not depend on the relationship you have with the mother of your child. While you do have certain responsibilities to your child, your also have specific rights outlined under Florida state law.
As a parent, you have the right to time-sharing, which means actively being with your child. You also have the right to have a say in their healthcare, religious upbringing and education. The only challenge is that you first need to establish paternity so that the state officially recognizes you as the father.
But do you need the cooperation of the mother to become a legal father in Florida? Let’s take a look.
She can make the process easier
While you don’t depend on the mother of your child to acknowledge you as the father, her cooperation can certainly speed up the process of asserting your parental rights. You can actually fill out paperwork right at the hospital following the birth of your child to have your name added to the birth certificate.
If you didn’t take that step previously, you can still sign papers and submit them to the state to add your name to the birth certificate anytime until your child turns 18. If you want to submit a voluntary acknowledgment to the state, you will need the cooperation of the mother. Otherwise, what you may need to do is go to the family courts.
Genetic testing can validate your paternity
If the mother does not want to acknowledge you as the father for some reason, you will need the help of the family courts. It is possible to have a judge request genetic testing. Those tests can affirm that you are the father of the child.
While there is a very small margin of error in such testing, they are generally incredibly accurate and reliable. Typically, the mother cannot refuse to undergo the testing and will need to present herself and the child for genetic tests in a contested paternity situation.
Once you have officially established paternity and added your name to your child’s birth certificate, you can ask for time-sharing and other parental rights. Learning about the Florida approach to paternity and parental responsibilities can help you be a more active and involved father.