Mediation Of Child Custody For Unmarried Parents
Maybe you were together a while but never "tied the knot." Or perhaps you had a brief relationship that resulted in a pregnancy. Whether you have lots of history or hardly know each other, disputes involving paternity, parenting time and financial support can be awkward and complicated for parents who were not married.
Emotions may be at an all-time high and trust levels at an all-time low, but going to court will only make matters worse. Attorney mediator Beth G. Reineke helps unwed parents resolve custody-related matters without resorting to litigation. We will help you understand the rights and obligations of each parent under Florida law and then work out practical co-parenting arrangements.
Tampa attorney mediator Beth G. Reineke is a Board Certified Emeritus specialist in divorce and family law with over 20 years of experience. She is certified by the Florida Supreme Court to conduct custody mediations, and she is a trained parent coordinator who can intervene to resolve high-conflict custody disputes.
Unmarried Couple Custody And Support
St. Petersburg Family Law Mediation Attorney
If the parents are not married when the child is born, it may be necessary to legally establish paternity (parentage) through genetic testing. Once a DNA test confirms paternity, that man is considered the legal father. This triggers parental obligations, parental rights and — in many cases — intense conflicts.
- Time sharing — Under Florida law, both parents have equal standing as parents, even if the mother has been the sole caregiver. An unwed father has a right to parenting time (visitation) or shared custody, even if the mother objects.
- Parenting plans — The court requires a detailed schedule that spells out overnights, vacations, holidays, grandparent visitation and other co-parenting matters.
- Shared parental responsibility — Both parents are entitled to a say in decisions about education, health care and religious practices, and both parents are entitled to regular contact with and communication regarding the child. See A Single Parent's Bill of Rights.
- Child support — The mother is entitled to child support, retroactive to the baby's birth, but child support arrears can be negotiated.
- Relocation — Once parentage has been established, moving the child out of state or to a distant part of Florida requires court approval.
- Modifications — Over time, it may be necessary to fine-tune the parenting plan or modify child support.
- Interference with parental rights — Time-sharing disputes or withholding of child support can be resolved without court intervention.
Tampa Paternity Mediation Lawyer
Although you are not together as a couple, you are forever linked as parents. We strongly believe that alternative dispute resolution is superior to the cost, animosity and uncertainty of litigation. Beth G. Reineke mediates paternity cases in Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and throughout the Tampa Bay Area, and she is a parent coordinator for the 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County) and the 6th Judicial Circuit (Pasco and Pinellas counties).
We invite unmarried parents to call 813-438-7129 or contact us online to explore solutions that will end the fighting and work better for everyone in the long run.