Is Florida a Mothers’ Rights State?

May 19, 2021

As a mother, you’re probably used to exerting a certain amount of control over your child’s life—with whom they spend time, where they go to school, who babysits them and more. Divorce or breakup can exacerbate these issues, especially if the father of your child doesn’t agree with your decisions. Working with a family law attorney in Tavares, FL can help you protect your rights as a mother—and more importantly, protect your child from potentially bad situations.

What are mothers’ rights?

Your rights as a mother typically hinge on whether you’re married when a child is born. If you’re married, your husband is the child’s presumptive father. The courts prioritize shared parenting, which means that the father will likely be granted visitation and custody rights of some type—whether that’s shared physical and legal custody, visitation and legal custody for one parent or another arrangement. Typically, the courts look to what’s in the best interest of the child. As long as your ex is a suitable parent, they’ll probably be given some form of legal and physical rights over your shared child. (Should they prove themselves to be an unfit parent, or a paternity action proves they’re not the father, they will have fewer or no rights.)

If you’re an unwed mother at the time of the child’s birth, you will have sole rights over the child until paternity is established. (In fact, if the father is absent or an unfit father, you may not want to establish paternity at all. However, this could negatively affect your right to child support, so it makes sense to consult with an attorney first.)

As an unwed mother, you might want to establish paternity so you can receive child support. After all, fathers should share in the financial burden of having children. Courts will take that into account when determining custody, support and other issues.

Florida custody and support law

Generally, the courts will make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the child. That’s evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and takes a variety of different factors into account. For example, the parents’ work schedules, income, childcare opportunities, school and location will all be considered when making a custody and child support determination. If the child is old enough to express a preference, the court will likely take that under consideration, too.

In addition to these standard considerations, it behooves you to let your attorney know if you believe your child is unsafe with their father or that the father has lied about his income on the court paperwork. There can be stiff penalties associated with these issues, and they’ll almost certainly affect custody and support determinations.

Finally, if you are a victim of domestic abuse, make sure to let your attorney know as soon as possible. Even if you’re certain that the father won’t harm your child, it’s crucial information that can help protect your rights.

For more information about mothers’ rights, call the family law attorneys at K.J. Law P.A. in Tavares, FL.

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