Custody Rights of Fathers in Florida

Your Rights as a Father in Florida

I Am A Dad, Do I Have Rights?

“Do biological fathers have rights to see their children?” This is a common question that comes up in our practice. We want to help provide you with some helpful information that will help explain your rights as a father or prospective father.

Are you a father facing a  divorce or do you need to establish legal paternity so you can see your biological child? Are you worried that your child’s mother may try to limit your time or rights to have a meaningful relationship with your child?

When your fathers’ rights are in jeopardy, TK Law is here to help.

We want you to understand your rights and make educated decisions about how to separate or divorce when your relationship with your child is at risk. We understand the games that parents can play and we do everything possible under Florida law to ensure you remain a strong and positive presence in your child’s life. Studies show that children tend to fare better with both parents actively involved in their lives.

If you are concerned about your rights and responsibilities regarding your children, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions that you should know. 

Are Mothers Favored Over Fathers In Florida Law?

Years ago, the courts often presumed children would be better off living with their mothers. The courts called this the “tender years doctrine.” While the doctrine is no longer law, this belief continues to this day, with many fathers thinking they have little or no rights to their children. 

Thankfully, the law has evolved, and this doctrine is no longer a legal reality. No longer is one parent primary and one parent secondary. Today, we have timesharing and parental responsibility.  Florida law now recognizes that a father’s involvement in the child’s life is just as important as a mother’s involvement. More importantly, the court’s primary focus is the “best interest of the child” and the courts no longer  give preference to the mother. For additional information on timesharing and the best interest of the child factors, see Florida Statute 61.13 (2022)

Even so, the judges are human beings and are still adjusting to this concept. Oftentimes, you need help from an experienced attorney who understands how to attack some of these prejudices using the law, experts and the rules of evidence to put your best foot forward. 

What are a Father’s rights to a child in Florida?

Florida law refers to all matters involving child custody and visitation as “time-sharing.” The court can award timesharing and decision making authority to a father that asserts their legal rights in the proper court. The goal of timesharing is to establish a consistent and predictable relationship that allows a father to have physical contact, and/or Internet or phone contact with their child on a regular basis. Be aware,  the facts and details matter greatly here and it is important for you to be clear with your attorney about all of the good and bad facts in your case. If the court finds that it would be detrimental or not in the child’s best interest to have that contact with you, then your rights and relationship with your child may be negatively impacted. 

Fathers also have the right to make decisions involving their children. Once your rights are established, you will have a “Parenting Plan,” which will spell out who is responsible for the major decisions regarding the child’s life including education, healthcare, religion and extracurricular activities. It also states any necessary arrangements for relocating the child to another city or state. 

What About Child Support?

Both parents are expected to contribute to the support and welfare of a minor child. Once legal paternity is established, we will be able to calculate ongoing and retroactive child support issues. Be careful, not all voluntary child support payments may be considered and you should carefully document what voluntary support payments you make to increase the likelihood that these payments will be considered by the court. 

What Happens If My Child’s Mother Refuses To Comply With The Parenting Plan Or Court Order?

If the Parenting Plan is ineffective, or if the mother refuses to abide by the order giving your legal rights, then you (as the father) have the right to return to court to request necessary changes or enforcement. Keep in mind that it is important that you document your attempts to be reasonable as the other side may try to argue your own actions have contributed to their non-compliance. Again, this is where hiring a skilled attorney can be helpful as we know how to articulate the strengths of your case and how to attack the weaknesses of your arguments.

How To Establish Paternity For Unmarried Fathers In Florida

Mothers get their legal rights immediately upon the birth of your child. Unfortunately for men, if you have a child born out of wedlock, you only get these rights when you establish paternity. 

If you and your partner are married when your child is born, your parental rights are presumed. However, unwed fathers will have to prove paternity in order to enforce their parental rights – and it is not enough to have your name on the child’s birth certificate. 

If the mother contests that you are the biological father, then you will need to a DNA test that establishes that you are the biological parent of your child.

Each situation is different and there may be ways to establish your legal status that avoids litigation. Contact TK Law to work with a lawyer that can protect your rights to be a parent and to explain your options in more detail. 

How To Get Custody In Florida?

Florida law makes the best interest of the child factors the ultimate test for determining timesharing. While it is rare for one parent to be awarded sole decision making and full parental rights, if you fail to participate in the proceedings, your timesharing may be extremely limited and your rights to your child may be forever impacted in a negative way. It is far easier for you to assert your rights in Florida than it is to modify your rights. 

There are twenty (20) factors the court will consider when determining the best interest of your child while creating a timesharing arrangement, including: 

  • The capacity of each parent to cultivate a strong parent-child relationship and adhere to the parenting plan and to be reasonable when changes are required; 
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
  • The mental, physical, and moral fitness of each parent; 
  • The ability of each parent to provide a healthy and consistent schedule including discipline, meals, and bedtime;
  • The willingness of each parent to keep the other informed of any issues or activities regarding the child; and,
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan.

As experienced attorneys and skilled litigators, we work with you to ensure your rights are upheld in a parenting plan that supports fair time-sharing and parental responsibility. 

If possible, we use mediation and negotiation to create the best arrangements. However, we cannot force the other side to be reasonable. That is why beginning with the end in mind (a trial) is a good strategy when you are planning to assert your legal rights as a father.

Protecting A Biological Father’s Rights In Central Florida

Nothing matters more than our children and you deserve the right to be fully involved in your child’s life, regardless of your relationship with their mother. 

Our experienced attorneys fight for you by getting you time with your child, removing barriers to access your child, and ensuring that the proper support payments are calculated. We can also help you disestablish, establish, or contest paternity, overcome parental alienation, and handle any other matters that will protect your rights as a father.

Establishing parental rights can be challenging, but you do not have to go through it alone. Call TK Law today at 407-834-4847 or get in touch for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. One Firm for Life is more than a motto; it is because we care.

Learn More

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a strict process that is geared for families earning more than $150,000 in year or excess of assets above $750,000. If you're interested in embracing the spirit of a collaborative divorce then cooperative divorce may be right for you. ​

Cooperative Divorce

If you're interested in embracing the spirit of a collaborative divorce then cooperative divorce may be right for you. The goal of cooperative divorce is to reach resolution through mediation. Call us today to learn more about your options and to see if a cooperative divorce suits your needs.


As divorce attorneys, we understand that the obligation to pay or receive alimony is a serious financial issue that can complicate a divorce case. Divorce is already difficult enough without worrying about financial security.

Parenting / Child Custody

When parents divorce, Florida law requires a time-sharing parenting plan be completed and approved by the court. Otherwise known as a custody and visitation order, parenting plans address how parents will continue to raise and care for their children after divorce.

Learn More

Free Case Evaluation

Altamonte Springs Office
999 Douglas Avenue
Suite 3333
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

Downtown Orlando Office
37 N. Orange Avenue
Suite 500b
Orlando, FL 32801