In many states, when a child’s parents are unmarried the father must go through a paternity action and then separate custody proceedings to obtain parental rights, even he and the child’s mother agree that he is the child’s biological parent, and they sign an acknowledgment of paternity stating so.
Florida was among these states until the recent enactment of a new law addressing this issue and how it affects fathers’ rights.
Fathers’ rights under the new law
Under the new law, which is effective as of July 1, if a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is signed by both the child’s mother and the child’s father, the father will immediately be granted shared parental rights without having to go through separate custody proceedings. Prior to the enactment of this law, the mother was the default custodial parent until a court determined via custody proceedings to grant the father shared custodial rights.
Support for fathers’ rights
Proponents of the law say it will relieve unwed mothers of the burden of caring for their children alone. It is also seen by some as a step forward in fathers’ rights. When parents agree on paternity, they should not have to jump through additional hoops to provide the child with the care the child needs.
Both parents must provide their children with the emotional and financial support they need to grow and thrive. When parents agree the father is the child’s biological parent, he must willingly take the responsibilities of parenthood that the law confers upon him.
It is important that fathers granted parental rights under the new law take their responsibilities seriously. But if both parents agree the father is the child’s biological parent and sign a voluntary acknowledgment stating so, there should not be roadblocks in the way of a father obtaining the rights to his child that both he and the child’s mother agree he should have.