Biological Mother’s Right to Parental Responsibility and Timesharing
The biological mother of a child born out of wedlock is deemed to be the natural guardian of the child and is entitled to receive primary residential custody of the child unless a court orders otherwise pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 744.301(1). The biological mother of a child born out of wedlock is therefore presumed to be the only parent that is entitled to parental responsibility and timesharing with the minor child until such time that either parent seeks a court order which provides otherwise.
Biological Father’s Right to Parental Responsibility and Timesharing
Prior to the amendment of Section 744.301(1) of the Florida Statutes, courts held that a non-married mother was deemed to be the sole guardian of a child, and that the non-married mother’s status as sole guardian created a presumption that the mother had a superior claim over the father to parental responsibility of the minor child. In order for an unmarried father to obtain shared or sole parental responsibility in a paternity case under the former version of the law, the unmarried father was required to demonstrate that the child’s biological mother was unfit to assume primary responsibility of the child. In re Interest of G, 274 So. 2d 4 (Fla. 4th DCA 1973).
Section 744.301(1) was subsequently amended to remove the presumption that an unmarried mother had a superior claim to parental responsibility over the biological father. In other words, the biological father is no longer required to show that the mother of the child is unfit in order to obtain sole or shared parental responsibility. Due to this amendment, the biological father of a child born out of wedlock now has the ability to seek shared parental responsibility and/or timesharing by initiating a paternity proceeding, and the Court will consider the best interests of the child in determining whether to grant such relief. Fla. Stat. §61.13(2)(c).