If you are the father of a child and you were not married to his or her mother, then you need to act fast to get parental rights in Florida. According to the Florida Statute, the mother of the child retains custody and parental rights if unmarried. For you, that means you have no legal rights to your child until you establish them through the court.
Even if you are on good terms with the mother of your child, it is still a good idea to establish paternity and parental rights. Without legal guardianship rights, you cannot make decisions for your child. You cannot demand visitation time or gain custody. You also may not make medical decisions or any other decisions regarding your child. Even if the mother allows you to have input, she holds the final decision-making power as the sole legal guardian of your child.
Even worse, if something happens to the mother and she can no longer take care of the child, you may not get custody. Your child may go into foster care or a court may place him or her with relatives. If you are the legal guardian, then you gain custody of the child.
Generally, you can establish paternity through a simple test. This will allow you to go to court and seek parental rights. You should do this as soon as possible after your child is born to avoid any issues in the future. This information is for educational use. It does not constitute legal advice.