What are my rights as an unwed mother?

racine-family-law-300x199Being 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.




In some cases going cheap may end up costing you a lot more in the end. Sure you can purchase a packet of papers from an “online non-lawyer service” that advertises you get “all the documents you will ever need” for $60.00.

BUYER BEWARE-the same papers you are purchasing for $60.00, YOU CAN GET FOR FREE at the Florida Supreme Court’s Website at http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/family-courts/family-law-self-help-information/family-law-forms.stml#980. Plus, they have “simple” instructions. The same instructions that a Document Service can provide. THEY CANNOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE!!!!

FREE FORMS: http://www.flcourts.org/resources-and-services/family-courts/family-law-self-help-information/family-law-forms.stml#980.


Let’s first look at the actual cost of filing your papers. In the 20th Circuit (Lee, Hendry, Glades, Collier, and Charlotte Counties), the Court filing fee for divorce is $408.00. If you have to serve the other party, add $10.00 for the Clerk’s Issuance of a Summons. Then, add the $40-50 fee that the Sheriff will charge you to have it served on the other party. Depending on your income and assets, you may be able to qualify for a fee waiver of some of the Court fees. Each County Clerk will have a form, ASK THE CLERK FOR A WAIVER FORM!

If you are still confused….Ask an Attorney for a FREE Consultation. There are attorneys that will work with you and help you through your difficult times.

Think about the Costs if you make a mistake in your paperwork…you could be waiving a right. Please seek the advice of an attorney BEFORE you decide to file. Divorce is already a difficult situation, do not make it worse.

For more information contact us at The Law Office of Mary A. Cosmo, Ft. Myers Attorney, practicing in Lee County.  We are now taking cases for civil litigation, small claims, family Law, and probate proceedings.  Call us today to see how affordable legal advise can be.

The Law Office of Mary A. Cosmo, 15050 Elderberry Lane, Suite 4-14, Ft. Myers Florida 33907.



Do you have Child Custody Issues?

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Divorce (contested or uncontested), Paternity, Visitation, Parenting Plans, Custody, Parental Responsibility, Child Support, Enforcement, Writ of Garnishment, Domestic Violence, and Department of Revenue Cases. We can Help! Low Affordable Flat Rates. Call for a Free consultation.

Learn more about Mary A. Cosmo, Esq., at http://www.attorneycosmo.com.

Please do not merely fill out a form if you do not understand the law. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney, who will explain your legal rights to you.

Can I modify Child Support?

Under Florida Statute 61.30(11)(c), “A parent’s failure to regularly exercise the time-sharing schedule set forth in the parenting plan, a court-ordered time-sharing schedule, or a time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties not caused by the other parent which resulted in the adjustment of the amount of child support pursuant to subparagraph (a)10. or paragraph (b) shall be deemed a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award… “

What is a Substantial Change in circumstances? Well, If one parent is not exercising their overnight schedule and they have a substantial timeshare credit calculated into their child support, you may be able to get addition support.

It is important to note that the failure to exercise timesharing cannot be the fault of the other parent refusing timesharing.

For more information about how to modify your child support contact us at The Law Office of Mary A. Cosmo at 23-851-4982.

Can I Change My Child’s Name?

If a parent or guardian is requesting that the Court change the name of a minor child over the objection of one or both parents, the Court must make that determination using the same standard that it uses to determine parental rights, which is the best interests standard.

This typically means that the petitioning parent or guardian must show by substantial and competent evidence that it is in the best interest of the child (necessary for the child’s welfare).

mere allegations or allegations of the parents wishes that the child carry on a name is insignificant to court and will not be enough to establish it is required for the court to change the name of the child to meet the child’s best interests.

For more information call for a free consultation. 239-208-2203.

The Law office of Mary A. Cosmo


Free Consultation and Payment Plans Accepted


Office in Ft. Myers, Florida and Labelle, Florida

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. Outcome or results are not guaranteed. The information presented on this website is for advertising purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. An attorney-client relationship will not be established until we have confirmed our representation of your case in writing.