New Florida Law Makes It Easier for Unmarried Fathers to Get Parenting Time
Florida law has long included a streamlined process to ensure that, after a divorce, both parents get a fair share of parenting time. The courts will not finalize the divorce of a couple that has minor children until the parents have agreed to a parenting plan. Most couples, with the help of their lawyers, are able to set the terms of their parenting plans during mediation. When couples cannot agree, a judge decides on the points where the parents have reached an impasse; pursuant to a law that went into effect in 2023, judges must start with the assumption that a 50/50 timesharing scheme is ideal and then adjust it to fit the parents’ work schedules and the children’s school schedules. In other words, if you are a divorced father, the court already agrees that you have a right to spend 50 percent of the days in the year with your children. What about fathers who were never legally married to their children’s mothers? A new law makes the process simpler for unmarried fathers who wish to establish court-ordered parenting time. If you want to ensure that, this year, your ex cannot change her plans at the last minute and stop you from spending the holidays with your children, a court-ordered parenting plan is your best defense, and a Boca Raton child custody lawyer can help you formalize one.
Dads Are Now Entitled to a Parenting Plan As Soon As They Establish Paternity
When a married woman gives birth to a child, her husband is automatically the legal father. When a child is born to an unmarried mother, however, the default option is that the mother is the child’s only legal parent and has the right to 100 percent of the parenting time. In practice, many unmarried couples raise children together as a family unit, but this family has no legal recognition, and if the couple separates, there are no legal guarantees of shared parenting time or court-ordered child support unless the parents get involved.
Until recently, unmarried fathers had to complete the process of legally establishing paternity before filing a parenting plan or requesting court-ordered parenting time. This year, HB 775, Shared Parental Responsibility After Establishment of Paternity, went into effect, making the process simpler. Now, when you file a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, the court automatically begins the process of establishing a parenting plan; this usually involves mediation with your children’s mother, unless you already have a timesharing schedule that works well, in which case you can just fill out a parenting plan form and file it with the court. Under the new system as under the old, you are not required to take a DNA test to establish legal paternity, and all children who have court-ordered parenting plans also have court-ordered child support.
Contact Schwartz | White About Establishing Court-Ordered Parenting Time
A South Florida family law attorney can help you legally formalize your parenting time and child support if you and your ex were never legally married. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.