Florida parents who have a child may later decide to separate and move on. However, fathers may want to maintain their closeness with their children. In order for a father to have the right to file for child custody, it is important for his paternity to be legally recognized. When the parents of a child are not married, the father’s identity is not assumed, and paternity must be vouched for in an official manner.
Paternity is important in a number of family law matters, including child custody and child support. While many people may think of a child support claim when considering filing for paternity, there are a number of reasons why a father may want to officially claim paternity on his own. Legal paternity gives a father the ability to file for custody and visitation, protecting the children’s right to know and bond with their fathers. Establishing paternity can help a father to benefit his child in other, indirect ways, like Social Security or veteran’s death benefits.
By voluntarily acknowledging paternity, a father commits himself to providing child support until the child comes of age. At the same time, he also provides himself with the opportunity to file for child custody. This can be done by filing a declaration of paternity, either at the time of the birth of the child or at any time before the child turns 18. If the declaration is filed before the child’s birth certificate is issued, the father’s name can be included right away; if not, the birth certificate can be amended to show the father’s name.
Child custody can be complicated for married couples going through a divorce, and it can be more so for unmarried couples. Fathers who are seeking custody can work with a Venice, Florida, child custody law firm to protect their rights and preserve their relationships with their children.