Florida law does not make any presumptions as to which parent is more fit; rather, it has established as a goal a shared-parent model where both mother and father participate in decision making and spend time with the child. However, as a practical reality, a Sarasota child custody attorney often sees the need for fathers to fight for their rights.
Establishing Custody and Time-sharing Rights
A Sarasota child custody lawyer will advise that at the onset of a child custody case, each parent has equal rights and a custody plan will be developed that is in the best interests of the child. At this stage, the father should assert his intention to do whatever is necessary to have the maximum time with his child as possible. Some considerations a Sarasota child custody lawyer will suggest, if at all possible, are: • Live in a home within the child’s existing school district so overnight visits are as easy as possible • Live in a home large enough and comfortable enough to accommodate overnight, weekend and summer visits • Willingness to adjust his work schedule to accommodate spending more time with the child Often, however, it is impossible for a father to provide 50 percent of the care for his child and the mother is awarded custody. As the non-custodial parent, the father is all too often excluded from major decisions and finds the mother is not complying with the visitation schedule. A Sarasota child custody lawyer can assist in negotiating a solution with the mother or returning to court to enforce the existing order or modify the existing order to ensure the father’s rights are protected.
Paternity must be established before any parenting rights can be asserted. Under Florida law, a child conceived or born during marriage is presumed to be the child of the wife and husband. Absent any claims to the contrary, the husband automatically has equal parenting rights. If a child is born to an unmarried woman, no presumption arises as to the identity of the father. The biological father of a child who is unmarried to the child’s mother has a right to file a claim of paternity to establish his parenting rights. A failure to exercise these rights could result in losing them. Under Florida law, the paternity of a child can be established by agreement of the mother and father, court order or operation of law. DNA testing is a fast, simple and relatively expensive way to accurately determine paternity.
Contact a Sarasota Child Custody Attorney for Legal Advice
Psychologists are in clear agreement that a child is far better off and better adjusted when both parents are intimately involved. The court is more willing to actively protect a father’s rights regarding custody and visitation when support payments are current. For any questions regarding your rights, your child’s interests or your legal options, call Liz Alpert at Alpert Law, P.A., a Sarasota child custody attorney group, at 941.954.1700.