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Fathers Get Greater Rights After Passage Of New Florida Family Law


For unwed fathers, being involved in their child’s lives often proves challenging. While paternity proceedings in Tampa can entitle you to be listed on the child’s birth certificate, they accomplish little in terms of custody and visitation. Even if you file a separate legal action, Florida Family Courts have traditionally favored the mother. A recently passed law levels the playing field.

New Law Helps To Protect The Rights Of Unwed Fathers In Tampa

Recent changes in the Florida Statutes can have major impacts on people involved in family court cases. Among these is a Senate bill that was signed into law by Governor Ron Desantis in June of 2023 and went into effect on July 1st. Known as the Good Dad Act, it helps to protect the rights of unwed fathers in paternity proceedings.

There are three options for fathers to prove paternity in Tampa:

  • Be listed on the child’s birth certificate at the hospital;
  • Submit a certified affidavit of paternity to the court, which requires the mother’s cooperation;
  • File for a paternity hearing, in which a simple blood test could prove with close to 100 percent certainty that a man was indeed the father of a particular child.

Even once paternity is proven, fathers have little rights. While you may be ordered to pay child support, you would need to file a separate legal action. You would also need to prove why you should be included in child custody and visitation arrangements.

In contrast, unwed mothers are naturally assumed to be the child’s natural guardian by the family court and do not need to prove why they should be a part of the child’s life. Passage of the Good Dad Act helps to level the playing field by adopting the same attitude in dealing with fathers.

Shared Parental Rights and Responsibilities For Unwed Fathers

Effective July 1, the new law automatically views the roles of unwed mothers and fathers equally. Both are presumed to be their child’s natural guardians, and they share in all of the rights and responsibilities associated with those roles. In addition to ongoing requirements to provide financial support (which the mother is obligated to provide, as well), unwed fathers may be included in Tampa parenting plans, which determine the following:

  • The amount of time the child spends in each parent’s home during the week;
  • Rights regarding weekend visitation and extended stays on school breaks;
  • The right to spend time with the child on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions;
  • Legal authority in making important decisions on the child’s behalf, such as pertaining to their education, medical care, and religious upbringing. 

Get Our Tampa Paternity Lawyer On Your Side

At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., we protect the rights of fathers. You can count on us to take the legal actions needed to ensure you get to play an active role in your child’s life. To get our Tampa paternity lawyer on your side, call or contact our office online and request a consultation today.




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