How Are Unmarried Parental Rights Determined?

If you are having a baby and are not married, you may wonder about your parental rights in Florida. Mothers and fathers need to be concerned because having the legal rights to a child is important to ensure you have the ability to raise and care for the child without interference from others. 

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid notes state law automatically awards birth mothers the rights as legal guardian of a child. If you are in this situation, it means you have legal custody of the child and the right to control any decisions regarding him or her. 

The story is different if you are the father. You are not awarded any automatic rights to the child if you are not married to his or her mother. The mother can grant you visitation if she wants but is not required to do so by law. If you want visitation rights, you must get a court order. 

It is important to note, though, if a mother allows a father to take a child and the father does not bring the child back, it is a civil matter, and law enforcement will not step in to return the child to the mother. On the other hand, if the father tries to take the child without permission, this is a criminal matter, and law enforcement will get involved. 

If you are an unmarried parent and you marry the child’s other parent, then parental rights are automatically awarded to both of you jointly. So, if you are a father who is not married to the mother of your child, once you do get married, you will not need to go to court to establish parental rights. This information is for education and is not legal advice.