Florida law states that if a child is born out of wedlock, the mother will automatically be the natural guardian unless and until the father takes affirmative steps to legally establish his parental rights. It is important to understand that being listed on your child’s birth certificate isn’t enough to protect your rights as a father.
To establish your rights as a father, you’ll need to begin by filing a notice with Florida’s Putative Father Registry. This essentially puts all parties on alert that there’s a pending paternity claim. Once you’ve filed the necessary papers, you’ll be notified when any action is filed concerning your child, such as a petition for adoption or a petition to terminate parental rights. Your next step will be to file an action for paternity, where you ask the court to legally establish your rights as the father of your child. Once the court has established your parental rights, you’ll be on equal legal ground with the mother of your child, and you’ll be able to seek a time-sharing schedule.