What are my rights as an unwed mother?

Being an unwed mother can be scary and you may have several questions; such as: What are my legal rights as a parent? What if I put the father’s name of the birth certificate? What can I do to protect my child? What can I do if the father does not return the child?

Under Florida Statute 744.301(1), The mother of a child born out of wedlock is the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to primary residential care and custody of the child unless the court enters an order stating otherwise.

This means the Mother has a superior right to “custody” of the child born out of wedlock until the an action is brought in Circuit Court to establish paternity (even if you already know who the Father is or if the Father is listed on the birth Certificate.

When the Father is listed on the birth certificate, it creates a presumption that the person listed is the biological Father. To establish or enforce a father’s natural rights, he MUST file an action for paternity in circuit court.

Mary A. Cosmo, Esq.
15050 Elderberry Lane, Suite 4-14
Ft. Myers, FL 33907
239-208-2203

LaBelle Office
825 E. Cowboy Way, Suite 107
LaBelle, FL 33935
863-674-9980

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