Unmarried Child Visitation

by Grandmother from Florida

Father and mother split shortly after son was 1 year old, never married, father and mother mutually agreed to share child custody and responsibility but no court paperwork was ever filed.

Father has notarized paper (August 2009) from mother stating father has the child Monday through Friday and father pays for day care.

Now mother is pregnant with new boyfriend and new boyfriend does not like the child's father.

Father was arrested for possession of marijuana which is pending litigation, when father was released, father was allowed to see child for 1 day since father was having a birthday party for child.

Father goes to child's day care to visit, father still pays for day care, mother has threatened to remove child from day care if father continued to visit. Father continues to visit and mother has now filed for child support and still refuses to let the child see father, other than the hour he sees him at day care.

The father is on the birth certificate. Modification to birth certificate was applied for several years after child's birth to add father. Mother states she is seeking full custody and child support and will not allow father to see child until established.

To date no paperwork through court is pending for custody by either mother or father; however mother does have pending child support case; father still has documents signed by mother stating he has child 5 days during the week (new paper signed in February by mother so father could get child care assistance-but not notarized).

Can father pick up child from day care and take home or does he need court paperwork first establishing paternity and shared custody.

Answer to Florida Child Visitation Question

Dear Grandmother,

Yes, he must first file a Petition to Determine Paternity.

The easiest way to explain the purpose and process of a Petition to Determine Paternity is that it is similar to a divorce, except that the parties were never married.

When unmarried people part company, and there is no child involved, it is relatively simple.

Once an unwed couple has a child, then the process must be documented to protect the rights of the child.

The currently signed documents between the couple, whether notarized or not, help establish the intentions of the parties, but are not necessarily legally binding.

In other words, a child custody and visitation agreement between them is fine, as long as they are cooperating with each other, but when they stop cooperating then the agreement cannot be enforced. It is only a voluntary agreement, and not a court order.

Along with the Petition for Paternity the father should file a Florida Parenting Plan. The mother does not have to agree to the Parenting Plan ahead of time, he can file it as a proposed plan.

In that Parenting Plan, the father can ask for visitation and a schedule of visitation which is fair for all parties. The courts, as a matter of public policy, must render family court orders to promote the best interests of children.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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