Understanding Rights As Unwed Parents

Parents have certain legal rights and obligations. For an unwed mother, these are automatic upon the birth of a child. This is not the case for unwed fathers. Neither biology nor actions give an unwed father legal rights to a child. This can only be done through establishment of paternity, either by acknowledgement or in court.

At Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A., in Panama City, we help parents and children secure their legal rights. We advise and represent mothers and fathers in proceedings to establish or contest the paternity of a child in Florida.

The Legal Rights Obtained By Establishing Paternity

Aside from the personal benefits of having a child knowing who their father is and having a relationship with him, establishing paternity provides legal benefits to mom, dad and child. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The right to child support: Legal parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially, and the child has a right to have that support. Establishing paternity gives mom the ability to obtain child support from the father in court.
  • The right to enforce a relationship: When you establish paternity, you can enforce visitation (time-sharing) or seek child custody (parental responsibility) as the legal father of the child.
  • The right to inherit: Under Florida law, a child has the right to inherit from a father's estate only if he or she is a legal heir (legal paternity has been established).
  • The right to health or life insurance: Insurers require proof of legal parentage in order for you to list a child as a beneficiary. Personal acknowledgement (verbal or written) is insufficient in most cases.
  • The right to Social Security benefits, veterans benefits or military allowances: The government also requires proof of legal paternity before a child can have access to benefits.
  • The right to medical information: Privacy laws prevent individuals from accessing certain medical information without legal standing. This includes a child's ability to learn about his or her parent's medical history and a parent's right to access a child's medical information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).
  • The right to school records: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), legal custodial and noncustodial parents have the right to access, update or amend their child's educational records, amongst other things.

Talk To An Attorney About Your Parental Rights For Free

If you have questions about paternity, schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer at our firm. You may call us at 850-851-0864 or send us an email with your information. Se Habla Español!