Getting legal parenting rights is now easier for Florida fathers who are not married to the child’s mother. That means holding fathers accountable is also easier for mothers.
This summer, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allows both parents to simply sign an Affidavit of Voluntary Acknowledgement either in front of two witnesses or a notary. That creates a “rebuttable presumption of paternity.” Either party has 60 days to change their mind and rescind their acknowledgment.
How does the new law change things for unmarried parents?
Before the new law, mothers were legally considered a child’s only “natural guardian.” Therefore, they were the only parent with legal rights unless the father went to court to get them.
One Tampa man said that even though he was listed as the father on his child’s birth certificate, the mother moved with the child to another country without his knowledge or permission. Under the new law, the father, like the mother, is considered a natural guardian, and both “have the rights and responsibilities associated with raising a child.”
The law has been dubbed “The Good Dad Act” and presented as a victory for unwed fathers who want to be involved in raising their children. However, it’s also a victory for mothers who never married their child’s father.
By acknowledging their paternity in this affidavit, the fathers are also acknowledging their financial responsibility for the child. This can make it easier for mothers to collect child support if nonpayment becomes an issue.
Although the new law makes it easier to codify paternity, it won’t prevent all disagreements about shared parenting time, parental rights and financial support. It’s still wise to put legal agreements in place. This can give your – and more importantly, your child’s – life more stability. With experienced legal guidance, you can negotiate agreements that work for everyone.