Child Custody Law & Fathers Rights
by Bob from Florida
The mother of my child has left me, what should I do? She broke up with me to "fly free" and go out to all the clubs and bars around town while I was at the house with the kids.
I let her do what she wanted, and I improved in all the qualities she wanted me to work on.
She has not had a steady job in two years, so I have been paying 100% of bills, plus all the extra that she wants.
Even after she told me that we needed to break-up I still supported her by taking care of the kids and the bills.
I have given as much as I possibly could to her, and she paid me back by leaving to 'go out' every other night. Now she has taken our child to go stay with her brother and she's talking about moving to New York. I told her that if she was going to move across the country like that, then I was going to do what I had to do in order to keep my son with me.
She told me that there was "no way in hell she would give up HER child". I bought a laptop this past February with my tax return, I came home from work Saturday and the door was unlocked and my laptop was missing. I asked her if she had it and she told me she "didn't know".
Well seeing how the door was unlocked when I got home, I assumed it had been stolen. After telling her that I was thinking about calling in stolen goods in my apartment she retracted her previous statement and told me that she did have it and that it was hers.
Now, I have been through plenty of relationships and plenty of break-ups, and i know what to expect, but this is my first time ending a relationship that involves a child. I'm not sure how I should handle this from here...
Answer to Florida Child Custody Question
I gather from your question that you were never married to the mother of your child.
Your first step is to legally establish paternity.
If your last name is on the child's birth certificate, that is only the first step in the process.
Your next step is to file Florida Family Law Form 12.983(a)
, Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief with the Family Law Clerk of Court in your county.
This form and accompanying forms can be found on the Florida Supreme Court website
Carefully read and follow the form instructions.
Forms which must be filed along with the Petition to Determine Paternity are listed in the instructions for that form.
The "Related Relief" referred to in the form's title include, child support, time-sharing (visitation), and custody, among other important considerations. Have a look at our web-powered instructions page for the Florida Petition to Determine Paternity
It is important that you file this quickly, before she removes the child from the state. Retaining Florida's jurisdiction of the child, is a far easier process than requesting the courts to return the child to Florida, after he has been removed.
And, until you have legally established paternity, you will not be recognized by the courts as the child's father. Regarding your laptop: From what you wrote, it sounds like she is claiming that the laptop was a gift from you to her.
If she continues to refuse to return it to you, your option is to file a claim in small claims court. Many county courthouses have a free small claims forms package.
Your statement of claim will include a request to the court that she be ordered to either return the laptop to you; or to reimburse you for the cost of the laptop. It is your job to prove to the court that the laptop was not a gift, and that she took it from you without your permission.Notice:
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