No matter how good the relationship is between you and your child’s mother, if you were not married when your child was born and you have not established paternity, you are at risk of not having equal rights. Being the biological parent is not enough for a man. You must become the legal father.
You can take this step fairly easily, according to the Florida Department of Revenue, through a genetic test and a paternity order from the court. Why is it so critical for you to establish paternity?
1. You have no authority
Imagine that you and your child are at the park, and your child falls and needs emergency medical attention. You do not have legal right to make medical decisions for your child because you are not a legal parent or guardian.
Similarly, your child’s school cannot give out records to adults who are not legal parents or guardians. The mother can include you in things, but you must depend on her to do so.
2. The mother does not have to let you visit
If you and your child’s mother have a disagreement or she does not like your parenting style, she does not have to let your child spend time with you. Without first establishing paternity, you cannot get a formal custody order that mandates when your child will be with you.
3. You have no say in relocation, guardianship or adoption
Maybe your child’s mother would never be so unkind as to deliberately keep your child from you. However, if she moves to another city or another state, she does not have to get your permission or go out of her way to make sure you keep in contact. If she dies and has not named you as guardian, your child will likely go to one of her family members rather than you, until you are able to establish your rights.
Once you establish paternity and obtain a custody order, you have the same legal rights to your child as his or her mother.