Just because a child is born out of wedlock does not mean that the father is any less committed to his child than if he and the mother were married. Unfortunately, the law does not automatically allow unmarried fathers to have rights to their child, especially if he and the mother decide to part ways.
In Florida, an unmarried father must legally adopt his child to receive any legal rights such as visitation or custody.
File a paternity claim as soon as possible
According to the Florida Senate website, the unmarried father must file a claim of paternity form to being the process of establishing parentage for his child. This form includes a confirmation that the unmarried father has every intention of supporting the child financially and emotionally.
An unmarried father can file this form at any time, except after a mother files to terminate his parental rights, in most cases. Essentially, if the breakup is bad enough, an unwed father may face losing his parental rights before even having them established in the first place. For this reason, it is important for unwed fathers to file a paternity claim as soon as they possibly can.
Other parties must consent to the adoption
An unwed father who is seeking to adopt his child must get approval to do so. According to FindLaw, not only must the mother consent to the adoption, but the courts must determine that he is fit as well. A father may receive a denial from the courts if he cannot show that he can financially provide for his child, or if he has a history of drug use.
Because there are legal hoops that unwed fathers must jump through to establish parental rights, it is important to get the process going as soon as possible.