Child custody laws are often complicated matters for the parents and even more complex for unmarried couples. The state of Florida recognizes that both parents play a pivotal role in raising a child and sets the child custody laws accordingly. "In Florida, the courts have moved away from using the term 'custody'; instead, the courts will assign 'parental responsibility' for the children," says Carol Allen, a contributor to WomensLaw.Org. Along with parental responsibility, the Florida family court decides timesharing arrangements and child support for the unmarried couple.
If both partners are legal parents of the child, both parents usually have an equal right to custody of the child, according to Wood, Atter & Wolf, a law firm in Jacksonville, Florida. The state of Florida does not make the distinction between married and unmarried parents with regard to parental responsibility. Similar to child custody definitions, parental responsibilities fall into either sole or shared roles between the parents.
According to Florida Statute 61.046, sole parental responsibility grants one parent the right to makes decisions regarding the child without input from the other parent. Sole parental responsibility is only awarded to a parent when the courts feel that the child's welfare is in question or in danger. Shared parental responsibility grants both parents full parental rights and responsibilities.
Timesharing establishes a schedule to help the parents maintain a stable environment for the child. A timesharing schedule is a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that gives specific times (including overnight and holidays) that the child will spend with each parent. Florida Statute 61.046 states that the parenting plan must be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court, or established by the court. The court only establishes a parenting plan when both parents cannot come to an agreement. If unmarried parents can't reach an agreement and one of them wants to petition a court for visitation, the outcome will depend on the family court. Once the court establishes a parenting plan, modification can only be made through the court.
As an unmarried custodial parent in Florida, you can obtain child support through a judicial court order or an administrative order. Florida law requires both parents to financially support their children, and unmarried mothers and fathers who are custodial parents are entitled to financial support from the other parent, according to Florida Family Lawyer Blog. Child support commences once paternity is established through the court, and Florida statute 61.30 sets guidelines for the calculation of this support.