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3 Questions Unwed Parents Did Not Ask While They Were Still Together

An ounce of preparation will save a ton of frustration.

 

Contest update: Our winner last week was Mr. Saturn. He has asked us to donate to Metropolitan Ministries http://www.metromin.org/. The answer was Steve Stamkos who set an NHL all-time record with five overtime goals. 

CONTEST ON/JTS ().  JT Simons, P.A., is holding a contest for you to figure out the hidden trivia question in this article. If you win, JT Simons, P.A., will donate $25 to charity. In short, figure out the hidden trivia question, send an email with the answer to JT Simons, and make sure your nonprofit is legitimate. Remember, send the answer to jts@simonslawfirm.com, subject line CONTEST ENTRY, and give me as much information as you can about the nonprofit you want the donation to go to. I need to verify it. I need your first name and the first letter of your last name.

The Huffington Post reports that one in four children are born to unwed couples.  Most Family Law attorneys will tell you that some of the most hotly contested time-sharing (previously “custody”) disputes are between young unwed couples. As usual, here is the:

Prologue

Here is how most situations start off in my cases: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in lust. Boy and girl have a baby. Now father and mother move in together with the anticipation of getting married. Something happens and father and mother break up.  Mother takes child somewhere else. Father wants to enforce his paternal rights.  Mother wants child support. 

All of a sudden there is a heated court battle that could have been resolved for a lot less had the father and mother recognized their respective rights and responsibilities. It plays out thousands of times every single year in all Florida trial courts. I have already written articles on what happens after the break up. So let’s concentrate on what can be done while the relationship is strong to protect everyone.

How Can We Make Sure The Mother is the Mother and the Father is the Legal Father at Birth?

As a matter of common sense, the biological and legal mother is a no-brainer in 99.99 percent of the cases. Exceptions to this rule are far beyond this article.

There is not a presumption that the father is the biological father or the legal father for unwed parents. By way of contrast, a husband is generally considered the legal father of a child even if the biological father is a result of the mother’s extra-marital affairs. 

For unwed couples, when the baby is born, make sure that the hospital places the father’s name on the birth certificate and that the father and mother sign the long-form certificate under oath, with two witnesses and a notary, recognizing the father as the legal father. The hospital will have the forms for you. 

This may sound like common sense, but I have only had one case in six years where a father could actually produce the long-form birth certificate signed under oath with two witnesses with the required language under section 742.210, Florida Statutes (this references section 382.013, Florida Statutes and other statutes to establish legal paternity). I have had plenty of cases where there is a father named on the birth certificate is clearly not the biological father. Simply listing the hopeful father on a birth certificate, without more, will not establish legal paternity.

Our Child is Already Born and We Want To Protect Ourselves

Assuming that you, as a couple, were not aware of the birth certificate requirements, you can still protect both of you and your child. The reasons for establishing legal paternity are far broader than simply planning for a break up. Unfortunately, I mostly receive cases where the parties have broken up. However, consider that legal paternity is important for estate planning purposes, perhaps medical insurance, and so forth.  

You and your significant other can execute a notarized voluntary acknowledgment of paternity in front of two witnesses and then file it with the Court. Under chapter 742, the acknowledgement “is subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within 60 days after the date the acknowledgment was signed or the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child, including a proceeding to establish a support order, in which the signatory is a party, whichever is earlier.” 

For mothers, establishing paternity early makes collecting child support much easier. For fathers, it literally gives them the legal recognition that they are the father. For unwed parents, the difference between being the biological and legal father is a serious issue. 

We Got Married After Our Child Was Born…What Now?

This is one of the best questions of law I get. Under section 742.091, Florida Statutes, if you have a child before you are married, and then get married, Florida considers the child born under marriage. As such, both parents are on equal footing and the child is considered born into the marriage. 

EPILOGUE

It is not offensive or a sign of turmoil if unwed parents secure their legal rights for the children. We secure our legal rights every day. We renew our driver’s license, sign contracts, drive the speed limit, agree to marriage licenses, and even agree to my disclaimer on my weekly trivia question. We also sign estate documents, mortgages, and leases. There is no reason why unwed parents should shy away from doing the same. In fact, for unwed parents, the ramifications for not securing your respective rights may have far more likelihood of negative repercussions than any other legal situation in my opinion. 

I could not figure out a way to hide the trivia question this week other than hiding it at the end, so here is the question: What mythical or folkloric character has been the subject of more movies in American cinema than any other?

Raequel Gadsden April 16, 2012 at 06:26 PM
This is great advice!

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