Man swinging childThis is the next post in my series addressing Florida’s child custody laws and how they apply to parents who have never been married. My last post explained the importance of formally establishing paternity for both mothers and fathers. If parentage was not established when the child was born then custody and support cannot be addressed until the issue of parentage is resolved. In this post I will explain how a Brevard County father can protect their custody rights. If you are a dad then it is important that you contact an attorney immediately.

Unmarried Melbourne fathers should insist on having a formal custody agreement on file with the Court

It is not unusual for couples to work out a visitation agreement between themselves when they have a child out of wedlock and go their separate ways. Because the couple does not need a divorce many separated parents who are on amicable terms believe they can “work out” a parenting agreement without the assistance of the Courts. While this is admirable, and peaceful co-parenting is always encouraged, it is in a dad’s best interest to obtain a formal custody order from the Court. This protects a Melbourne father should the two parent’s relationship ever sour in the future. While one may be getting along with their ex in the immediate time frame it is important to remember that such relationships often deteriorate over time.

If a formal time share agreement is not on file with the Court then it is easier for a mother to move out of Florida without the father’s permission, make claims that the father is not an active part of the child’s life, or make important parenting decisions without the father’s input. Having the Court sign off on the agreed upon status quo provides a certain amount of insurance in the event there is a future disagreement.

Brevard County fathers should exercise their visitation time and be as consistent as possible

It is also important that fathers take a “use it or lose it” approach to visitation time with their child. If a father is unreliable when it comes to visitation with his child then a Court is more likely to reduce visitation should such a request be made by the mother. The Courts expect both parents to be active in the child’s life and a Judge is more likely to reduce a father’s visitation if he has shown a pattern of being absentee. I strongly encourage fathers to pick up and drop off children on time, attend school functions, call children when promised, and avoid rescheduling visitation unless absolutely necessary.

If you are a Melbourne father and are concerned that your child’s mother wants to reduce your visitation then contact my office today. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.