Fathers Rights With Mother in Jail
by Dan from Clearwater, Florida, Pinellas County
My girlfriend has recently been sentenced to 17 months in Florida state prison for a fraud conviction. We are not married but have an 18 month old son together.
I am on the birth certificate, he has my name, and I have been paying child support and have a good relationship with the mother.
Support is handled between the two of us and we both want to be involved in my son's life.
Due to work issues and the fact that we want to share time with him as HE needs it, he has stayed at my house about half of the time since he was born.
Understanding that I do not want to 'take' him from her, and am willing to give back custody upon her release, and he currently lives with me while she is there, is there a reason I should seek some type of legal custody or just go on like it is?
We visit her a lot and talk via phone whenever possible. Basically, all is good except she is in jail. Are there rights I may need to make decisions for him while she's gone that I don't already have since I am the father and he lives with me anyway.
I do not want to rock the boat needlessly because we both care about him and are working together amicably to raise him. Advice?
Answer to Florida Child Custody Question
You should already be recognized as the legal father of your son, because you are
on the birth certificate, supporting him, and he is in your physical custody.
I gather that in the past you paid child support directly to your ex, and it was not court ordered, and did not go through the court system at all.
That's fine, just make sure that you have documented exactly when and how you have provided financial support.
Also, since you and your ex were never married, it may be wise to get a General Power of Attorney
from her, stating that you have full authority to authorize emergency medical care if necessary, enroll him in daycare, etc.
Even though she is in prison, you should be able to obtain a power of attorney from her. A power of attorney needs to be notarized and you should have it in your possession at all times.
Contact the facility where she is incarcerated and ask their procedure for having documents notarized. The prison staff should be able to explain exactly what you need to do. Notice:
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