Shared Parental Custody Challenges in Florida for Unmarried Parents

unmarried couple parental rights attorneyattorneys


When parents are not married and have children together, they can face a unique set of challenges when it comes to shared parental custody. In Florida, the court considers the best interest of the child when determining custody arrangements, but the process can still be complicated for unmarried parents. Here are some of the common challenges faced by unmarried parents in Florida during shared parental custody.


Establishing Paternity:

In order to establish shared parental custody, the court needs to determine the biological father of the child. This can be done through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or through a DNA test. Until paternity is established, by Court Order, the putative biological father has no rights with respect to the child to time-sharing, visitation, or other parental rights.

Determining Child Support:

Once paternity is established, the court will determine the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent. Florida Statutes have a formula for determining the amount of child support. The formula (child support guidelines) take into account each parent’s income and the percentage of overnight visitations each party has. The Court will not depart from the guidelines except under limited circumstances.

Parental Rights:

Unmarried parents may face challenges when it comes to establishing the rights and responsibilities of each parent. This includes decision-making authority, access to medical and educational records, and the right to make decisions about the child’s health education and welfare. The Court will determine each parent’s rights based on “the best interests of the child(ren).

Lack of a Written Agreement:

Without a written agreement, it can be difficult for unmarried parents to clearly define their rights and responsibilities. This can lead to disputes and confusion over the terms of shared parental custody. A parenting plan should be presented to the Court for approval and incorporation into a Final Order.

Relocation Issues:

One parent may wish to move with the child, but the other parent may object. This can be a challenge for divorced parents, as the court will need to determine whether the move is in the best interest of the child. The child may not be relocated (moved to a new residence 50 miles or more from the current residence) without a written agreement or a Court Order.

Communication Problems:

Unmarried parents may struggle with communication and cooperation, making it difficult to work together in the child’s best interest.

Parenting is hard. Raising children together as a divorced or separated couple is harder. Dealing with all this when never married is even harder.  It would be ideal if parents can navigate all this on their own. But often, that is the hardest part of all. An experienced family law attorney can prove helpful in navigating the process of providing the best agreement for your children.

Which is truly what both parents want.