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The Reed Law Firm helps many people who have children, irrespective of whether they are married or not. Our experienced attorneys can guide you in making the right decisions when dealing with this very important family matter. Oftentimes, both mothers and fathers are confused as to the extent of their rights and obligations as co-parents of a child. Our legal advocates know how to help you secure your legal rights involving your child. 

Paternity (Parents who did not marry): Co-parenting a child.

When a person has a child or children without marriage, the action used to formally establish the parties’ legal rights and obligations is called a paternity action.  Before such an action is commenced and concluded, many putative (commonly regarded as such) fathers have great difficulty obtaining recognition of their parental rights.  Often, there is considerable frustration when a putative father is a participant in a child support collection action, yet is unable to assert his access and contact rights, since the child support statute does not allow for establishment of access and contact.  The State of Florida maintains a Putative Father Registry allowing a father to assert his paternity whether or not the child’s mother is willing to agree with the assertion:  You can take a look at it by clicking on this link:

The ultimate answer is commencement of a paternity action.  Such an action allows establishment of both child support and access and contact.  Yet, paternity actions do not include issues like alimony, jointly owned real property such as a home (and its mortgage), retirements, financial accounts, investments, businesses, or the many other kinds of jointly owned property or joint debts that two parents may possess.  Those matters are addressed by other types of law.

A key element in both paternity and divorce actions is establishment of a parenting plan.  Below is a excerpt containing helpful information from The Florida Bar’s free Consumer Pamphlet Parenting and Divorce:  (Although it refers to divorce, the information on a Florida parenting plan applies in paternity actions and is helpful).

Both parents have an affirmative duty under Florida law to promote a good relationship between the children and the other parent. Both parents must attempt to insure that the children have unhampered contact and free access with both parents.

Neither parent may do anything to hamper the natural development of the children's love and respect for the other parent. A parent should not disparage the other parent or discuss the divorce in the children’s presence. Each parent must make all reasonable efforts to encourage and facilitate communication between the other parent and the children. Neither parent should do anything that would estrange the children from the other parent or that would injure the children's opinion of either parent.

The below information is from The Florida Bar’s free Consumer Pamphlet Parenting and Divorce

In 2008, there were numerous changes made to Florida law governing parenting issues in divorce cases. The most significant change requires the creation of a parenting plan for all children subject to a dissolution of marriage action. Parenting plans are designed to more closely reflect the modern day challenges and circumstances facing parents and minor children before, during and after a dissolution of marriage. Parenting plans address the details of how the parents will share and be responsible for the day-to-day tasks in raising children. The parenting plans also address time-sharing schedules for the time the children will spend with each parent. Parenting plans also encompass issues such as the designation of who will be responsible for school-related matters and methods and technologies for communicating with the children among other issues.

In approving a parenting plan, a court must make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child. Among the twenty factors to be considered by the court:

1. Demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship.
2. The length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment.
3. The geographic issues raised by the parenting plan.
4. The moral fitness and mental and physical health of the parents.
5. The child’s home, school, and community record.
6. The child’s preference, if the child is mature enough to express a preference.
7. Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse or evidence that a party has made false accusations of domestic violence.

There are additional factors and considerations to be made by the court in approving a parenting plan. The above are just a few examples of those considerations. Obviously, the more closely and cooperatively the two parents can work through the issues and consider the primary goal of doing what is in the best interest of the children, the easier the dissolution of marriage process will be for the parties.

If you wish to read the full pamphlet simply go to the Online version at:

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