Shared custody is the standard in most divorce cases. Florida refers to shared physical custody as time-sharing. Each adult will have control over and responsibility for the children for a certain percentage of time. Time-sharing arrangements help parents cooperate for the benefit of their shared children.
Similar arrangements are often necessary when unmarried parents break up or begin living separately. However, unmarried fathers are often unsure of what rights they have and how to obtain time-sharing. What must an unmarried Florida father do to obtain time-sharing rights?
He will need to establish paternity
The state must acknowledge a man as the father of a child to obtain time-sharing rights. Sometimes, unmarried couples add the father’s name to the birth certificate at the hospital. For men who have already added their names to the birth certificate of their children, the only step necessary to acquire time-sharing rights is to request them in family court.
For fathers not currently listed on the birth certificates of their children, officially establishing paternity is necessary first. They can do so by voluntarily cooperating with the mother and submitting paperwork to the state.
In scenarios where cooperation is not an option, unmarried fathers can potentially obtain time-sharing rights by asking the courts for support. Court-ordered genetic testing can quickly and painlessly establish a man’s role as the biological father of a child. Once the courts have validated a man’s claim to paternity, he can then ask for the same time-sharing rights as a father included on the birth certificate from a child’s first moments of life.
Learning about the rights of unmarried fathers can help men play a more active role in the upbringing of their children.