Paternity and parental rights what changed in 2023?

Most people believe that when a biological father’s name is on the birth certificate this automatically gives them parental rights. This is not true. There is a difference between a biological parent and a legal parent.

Prior to 2023, unwed biological fathers had no presumptive parental rights over their children. However, in 2023, the Florida Legislature amended the paternity statute and also the guardian statute to provide for greater rights for unwed biological fathers.

Prior to July 2023 the biological mother was the only guardian for children born out of wedlock. Since the amendment to Section 744.011, Florida Statutes, unwed biological fathers are also considered the natural guardians, but they must take action to establish themselves as the legal father pursuant to the paternity statute. This is not a difficult process and can be done fairly easily.

Even if a biological unwed father is living with the mother, they should file to establish paternity pursuant to the paternity statute to establish themselves as the “legal” father”. Why? The reason is that if the unwed biological mother and biological father have problems or issues over the decisions governing their child, the mother could block the father from seeing the child and also make all decisions until the father gets a hearing in court.

The courts are overburdened, and it can take months to get a hearing. By being proactive, the biological father can avoid this dilemma by having himself declared the legal father ahead of time. Also, before there is rift in the relationship the declaration that a biological father is the legal father is usually a simple ministerial process.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that if you are an unwed biological father, you should get a declaration of paternity and you will have full parental rights under Florida law.

Catherine M. Rodriguez, Esq.If you are involved in a paternity dispute, call the lawyers at Filler Rodriguez LLP at 305.672.5007 to assist.

Divorce Attorney Miami, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach Florida