In the state of Florida, the mother is the legal guardian of the child. So basically, she is the only one that has control over what happens with a child. Even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he doesn’t have any enforceable rights. A father can only get enforceable rights when the court adjudicates him to be the father. For the father to obtain enforceable rights, the father must go into the circuit court and file a petition to enforce paternity.
A lot of times child support will be established if the mother is on Medicaid or gets food stamps. This type of paternity action is only to establish that he is the father, however, it does not give the father any visitation or other enforceable rights regarding the child.
So, when a mother of a child comes into my office, I let her know that she is in the driver’s seat, with total control of your child. But you should not unnecessarily try to withhold a child from the father because that will make you look bad when you go to court. The family law court does not look fondly on a parent when he or she tries to use the child as a weapon against the other parent.
The best solution is for either the father or the mother to file to establish paternity so that a parent in planned to be established and both parties know what their rights are regarding time with their child and ability to make important decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. The petition to establish paternity may be filed in the county that you live in, or the county that the child resides in, or the county that either parent lives in.
If there’s already a child support case established for the department of revenue, that maybe the best place to file a paternity case. Filing the paternity case in the same county as an existing child support case can often save time and money.
LAW OFFICE OF
GAIL CHEATWOOD, P.A.