Going through a divorce as a father can be tough. Custody isn’t automatically given to a child’s father like it is for a child’s mother. Unlike the mother, a father’s custody rights can be taken away if you don’t know what they are.

If you were unmarried when your child was born, establishing your rights as a father can be even more challenging. To ensure you’re receiving your full rights as a parent and to make custody easier, it’s best to hire a Paternity Attorney in Orlando.

Here’s a guide to establishing your parental rights as a father in Florida.

Establishing Father’s Parental Rights

The very first step in custody cases is to establish that you are the father. If you and your ex were married when the child was born, the courts will assume that you are the father and don’t need any further proof. If that was not the case, then there are a few different scenarios to take note of.

If your child was adopted and you signed the adoption certificate, then you will be given biological father rights. You’ll need to present the adoption certificate but other than that, no further proof is required.

In a situation where you were not married at the time of your child’s birth, both you and your ex will have to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This was likely already done at the hospital,  but if not, you’ll need to do it now. If your ex argues that you are not the father and won’t sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, you will have to submit a DNA test result. 

If you are forced to submit a DNA test to prove that you are the father, you’ll have to wait for the results before continuing. Once the results are in, you can continue working with the court to establish custody and visitation. 

In the scenario where you were unmarried at the time of birth, but later updated your child’s birth record, then you shouldn’t have to further prove yourself as the father.

Your Rights as a Father

Once you’ve proven to the court that you are the father of your child, you should be informed of your rights. To ensure that you are granted your full rights as a father, you must first know what your rights are.

Some people mistakenly assume that fathers are not granted the same rights as a mother. This is only true if you and your ex weren’t married when your child was born and paternity was never established. After you establish paternity and prove definitively that you are the father of your child, you have the same custody rights as your ex.

As a father, you have a right to shared custody. As long as the court considers both you and your ex fit to care for your child, you can be granted a shared custody agreement. There are several ways this could play out, but the court will always work in the best interest of your child.

There are a number of different ways the court may choose to grant custody and visitation rights. As a father, you have the right to challenge the court’s decision if you feel that it was made unfairly and that you deserve more.

Although full custody was originally granted to mothers years ago, the courts have now changed. Knowing your rights is an important factor in fighting a custody battle, though. If you know your rights ahead of time and can prove to the court that you are fit to continue caring for your child, then you may be granted the full extent of your rights as a father.


Establishing your parental rights as a father can seem like an impossible challenge, especially if your ex is fighting you every step of the way. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as you may think. Once you’ve successfully established your paternity and proven to the court that you are the father, then you can leverage your rights to get the outcome you deserve.

Emily A. Konicek

Emily A. Konicek

Emily A. Konicek brings 14 years of experience to your family law concerns. Emily excels at mediation, negotiation and litigation, and can help you pursue a course of action that helps you meet your goals for the future and for your family.