In America, we are mainly concerned with superficial materials. We immerse ourselves in pop culture, and our society gets sidetracked and we often become forgetful of traditional American values. We fail to realize as we often overlook the importance that family values may play a big impact in our children’s lives. According to McKinley Irvin, a family law firm specializing in only family cases, “Forty-three percent of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers.”According to Communities Digital News, “At present, 15 million American children — one in three — live without a father”.(Alan Brownfield)Often there are several restrictions inhibiting them from being an active parent in the lives of their children. We will focus on what happens in the state of Florida. Many questions might be generated, some with answers, some without, but the focus should bring attention to who, what, why, when, and how people are affected from a neutral standpoint.
The primary focus will be to introduce readers to the term “paternity,”
defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as the state or fact of being one’s father. This is obtained from the state in a variety of ways; I will start from the path of least resistance to the most contested forms that can arise. The first, can be legally obtained when a child is born through a marriage by husband and wife, defined by Florida Law Statute Chapter 61. The second way is when two parents are willing to sign off on an acknowledgment of paternity; mother and father would be required to sign in front of a notary this establishes them as the legal parents through the state’s Department of Health. Communication from the state’s Department of Children’s Vitals to the Social Security Office or vice versa takes place so that both parents are able to get legal documents for children. The third way is when parties might/might not be in agreement.
A paternity case would need to be filed through the judicial court system. This stems into two categories. Subcategory one would be initiated by a male who wants to take legal responsibility of the child. Subcategory two is when the mother claims a certain male is the father. The father can contest to disprove within a limited amount time or would be held responsible for child. If contested by either party, a DNA test is ordered by a judge to disprove or prove any biological ties to the child or children. If the mother initiates this action, this can be started free of charge through the Florida Department of Revenue. They are in charge of collecting any monetary child support. This is done under the Title IV-D program, which is operated by the Department for Revenue as is in charge of enforcing any child support order in Florida.
There are five types of custody: physical custody, legal custody, sole custody, joint legal, and joint physical custody. Legal custody is defined as “parents are able to make legal decisions on matters impacting the child”. Physical custody implies that children live with a specific parent. SoleCustody implies that one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child. The other parent may have visitation rights, but does not have any custodial rights and cannot make decisions affecting the child under sole custody. Joint Legal Custody is defined as both parents having a say in decisions that may impact the child such as education, religion, and medical necessities. When parents share joint physical custody, the children split time between living with both parents. In the event of a major dispute between parents, they are encouraged to settle the dispute outside of court or at mediation. If that is not feasible, the courts can settle the dispute.
Now that we have defined the different types of custody, many questions can be introduced during the discussion of the family court system. What establishes paternity if paternity is not established, to begin with? What is at stake during a paternity case? Are cases ever contested and if so, why? Who initially files paternity cases? Why contest? What is considered a victory, and how does one reach their goals towards a desired outcome? What are some reasons why some people fight through the court system, while others choose not to? What are some experiences faced in the stages of litigation? What are the stages? How long might this process last? How much might this process cost? What is gained or lost during the whole process? Why is it important to read about this? How can the knowledge gained benefit someone? This next link will have advice from Merissa Grayson Esquire in reference to why it is important to establish paternity.
Imagine bringing someone in this world. Now imagine having them taken away.
This person is a part of you and has many characteristics of you. You vow to do anything in the world for them, to be a part of their life and are willing to put anything at stake to give them what they need whether financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Now imagine this bond can either be destroyed by someone else-maybe the other parent, an attorney, or a judge, the last two whom know nothing about your relationship with this innocent child. Yet these positions can influence the future relationship with the person whom is your biological child. Even if there are no physical or emotional negative issues against one party; one party is guilty until proven innocent, and sadly it’s usually the male gender.
Now that we have identfied what’s at stake, parents usually contest the time they can spend with the child. Or how much money they can get as far as child support. These are the primary things, if parents want to make things worse, they could literally contest and litigate anything as far as any and all activities. Activities such as where the child will go to school, to religious preferences, what daycare provider the child will have to recreational participation events the child will do. This Process can be emotionally and financially nerve-wracking, as it strips the power from the parents and leaves the decision making to the court.
The stereotypical deadbeat dads, those whom have no contact with their children or even acknowledge their existence. There are many other fathers whom fight for their right to be a part of their children’s life. These fathers might be far and few between especially if the child was born out of wedlock.
Whether a man may be recognized as a father to a child in Florida is often unrelated to issues of biology and genetics. It will often depend on the reason for the establishment of paternity. A child born to an unmarried couple, a father will have no rights unless a paternity action is filed. Paternity may be established by execution of notarized voluntary agreements, either completely voluntary or by order of a judge. Under current law the husband or the wife may deny the biological paternity of a child born to the marriage. The wife is now allowed to bring an action for paternity against a man other than her husband. A putative father would be allowed to raise a child support action against himself if he wishes. A gentleman by the name of Emmanuel Skye recently fought the courts to be in the life of his daughter and get custody even while the mother put the child up for adoption.
So one might ask: why is it important to establish paternity?
In the case of the unmarried man, it would be a good idea to establish paternity if the man does want to have a relationship with the child. In regards to legality, an adoption reform was passed that dictated a decision made from the U.S Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court reviewed the constitutional rights of biological fathers and children born out of wedlock. The outcome according to this was that “any and all constitutional rights do not emerge from simply a biological connection”. This means for a man to have legal connection to a child born out of wedlock, “A biological father must act diligently even prior to child’s birth, to secure his constitutional rights”.
There exists an unmarried putative registry where biological fathers are able “to take affirmative action toward establishing their rights to a child, prior to filing an action for adoption seeking to terminate father’s parental rights, in order to be able to assert any parental right or interest over the child in the context of the adoption proceeding”. The Department of Health is responsible for ensuring notices for these registries, and publication material can be found at Florida Department of Children and families offices/website public/charter schools health class curriculum, libraries, medical clinics, schools, and universities. Pamphlets may be found in public places, but chances are how many people go in to renew a license and also make sure their name exists in the registry.
Cases have gone to trial in the Florida Supreme Court regarding what is a timely manner, terminating parental rights, responsibilities, and adoptions. Does the mother get an option to put the father on the registry? The answer is yes, but her right of privacy is protected under statutorily in 63.022(1)(b)and 63.053(3) Florida and Federal constitutions to the fact that that she does not have to disclose her sexual history, birth father’s identity, and to include if there is a history of abuse.
This subject is significant to me for the reason that I am currently in the process of establishing paternal rights not just for me, but also for my child. These rights will include the physical and legal ability to be involved in my child’s life. It is a far lengthy process emotionally, physically draining, and financially expensive. Personally, it is all outweighed by what is at stake and that is the responsibility to play an active role in my daughter’s life. To watch her grow up, nurture her, be there for her emotionally, and help her reach her goals.
I have lived my life serving this nation in the military and decided to leave this career for a new set of orders of indefinite time, or until my plug is pulled by the man above and takes me off this earth. I fight to be there as the first superhero my daughter will have. I strongly feel that by her seeing her father involved in her life she will strongly benefit by it. I will set the stage to teach her how a man should treat her. I will help build her self-esteem, confidence and teach her to value herself. I know I will do a good job when she comes back to me and asks for advice. I am pursuing to have an open co-parenting relationship with the mother, as I feel WE are both important in our child’s life. I accept that we as adults possibly did not work out for whatever reasons, but at the end of the day it is irrelevant because the most important person in this is not us, it is the person we share in common.
Often in a child’s mind, it is not the breakup that affects them; it is the continuous fighting. Why would anyone want to keep the other parent away? To me, it makes no sense, especially if they are supportive and are supportive with parental responsibilities. Coming from a point regarding both parents who are fit to be parents. I write this only to make society aware that both parents equally as important in a child’s life and equal treatment of both parents should be the norm. For this reason, I have a strong passion for what I am pursuing and am willing to learn more on how this issue can be addressed.
How are these decisions made? A presiding judge in a circuit court under domestic relations will have ruling authority referencing Chapters 61 of the Florida Statute of civil procedures under domestic relations. The twenty-one best interest factors will be grounds but not limited to how a ruling is made. To see the 21 factors please click on above link and refer to section 61.075 under Equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities.
Many fathers do not know the law; unfortunately, the majority of them do not seek to learn the law and only go by what conversation they may have with a few attorneys or by what their friends may tell them is the status quo. Either parent might have their strengths and weaknesses, but if both parents are fit, mentally and physically and able to work together and willing this might be the best interest of the child respectively, as every case is different.
The cost is high in the process? Emotionally, psychologically, or even worse, when the children pay the price possibly by being alienated by one parent, or having to be in the middle of the parents fighting if they are not on amicable terms. A private attorney for either party can cost anywhere from 200 to 450 an hour from the personal interviews that I have done. Smaller firms to larger firms were interviewed in the Orlando area. Attorneys can bill usually in two ways, usually a flat fee with a retainer (set by the attorney) or hourly. Depending on where the case sits will determine how much more is needed. Pre-trial can start at three thousand and up. A full-blown trial can run anywhere from tens to fifty thousand dollars or even in the hundreds.
Attorneys are not able to specifically quote you a specific price as it is hard to determine exactly what will be done in your case. This is also not considering if there are any Department of Children’s Services cases or Domestic violence, claims opened against which can open a new assortment of problems.
Often what happens is that either parent might just think about the emotional aspects of themselves and might not take the best interests of the child into consideration. Many cases for that reason could go contested, or for other reasons as it is hard to specifically say what is going on with each case because every case is different. What happens when you have a supportive father that wants to give their kid a positive outcome on life? What happens when you have a dad whom does positive things in the community, and is able to instill values in the life of their child? What happens when the father is able to put not his needs first but the child’s needs? What happens when the father is willing to co-parent with the mother and be reasonable but still has restricted access to the child? Whom really benefits from that? Could the system have any flaws? With so many cases, just alone in the state of Florida in the County of Orange there are many cases that will open up throughout the year. During January 1, 2015-February 1, 2016 a total of 71 paternity cases were open during that month, alone in Orange County Florida.
Respectively this total accounts for males and females being the petitioners, or plaintiffs, opening these cases, and this also accounts for Department of Revenue cases those cases opened by the state for monetary child support only. These cases are only accounted for ones that were open during this time period. Most cases are continuous and continue for many years. Often costing a parent thousands of dollars, to lead a father bankrupt and homeless. A Department of Revenue is not to represent the male in any manner, it takes into sole account money for the state in the form of child support, and will not exercise time share with father.
Parents one month late on a child support payment in Florida will have the nonpayment reported to the credit bureau.
Interest will incur if still unable to pay, any driving privileges, registrations, licensing and passports will be revoked and eventually leads to a warrant for an arrest with a serving of jail time. Collection of the support continues while serving a sentence accruing interest. Child support is calculated based on the number of overnights stays with either parent, income made, then divided by that amount and awarded to custodial parent.
I had the opportunity to attend numerous cases in relation to family court. The first one was a domestic injunction and the second was a modification for timesharing.
Seeing a family court case is emotional, it hits when you walk in and the tension gnaws at your bones the whole time you are in there.
I will not share personal information on the cases, but the modification case left both parties in tears. The mother submitted for an injunction when the child was first born, and father has not been able to see his son for nine months. The mother was very emotional the whole time did not like the fact that child would be able to get time with father, father broke down in tears when the judge told him that he would schedule time sharing and he would be able to see his son starting Monday.
These cases are too compelling and it is very difficult not to get emotionally sucked in like a vacuum. If there would be a way to educate both parents if indeed they are both fit and willing to co-parent children this and be open minded the children will have the advantage. Too often the fighting’s rips these kids apart and the seams are not easily sewn back. It helps that both parents can promote and foster a healthy relationship with the ongoing parent. Maybe with education and pre-parenting courses, we can help find a way to help others. I hope this paper informs those of what is happening with the great majority of our families and how things can get better our future society. After having the opportunity to attend hearings, I can see why the process is very lengthy, and strongly feel that it is in the best interests of the parents to work it out among themselves for the sake of the children. For this princess I will change my life plans as being present in her life is an honor, and something I am willing to persevere with what comes my way.
Ayo, Stevens. “Florida Child Support Enforcement – Ayo and Iken.” Ayo and Iken. Https://www.myfloridalaw.com/child-support-law/florida-child-support-enforcement/, n.d. Web. 19 Oct.2016
Brownfield, Alan C. “Studies Reflect the Damage of the One Parent – Fatherless Family.” Communities Digital News. Community Digital Network, 15 May 2014. Web. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016. http://www.commdiginews.com/life/studies-reflect-the-damage-of-the-one-parent-fatherless-family-17573/.
Cohn, J. (1998, Dec 07). A Man’s Place. The New Republic, 219, 20-25. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rollins.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/212818749?accountid=13584
Hickman, Amy and Tate, Jeanne. “Florida’s Putative Father Registry: More Work is Needed to Follow the Established National Trends Toward Stable Adoption Placements” The Florida Bar Journal, January 2008
Hunter, L. (2015, 05). NAVIGATING CUSTODY AND CHILD SUPPORT. Essence, 46, 121-122. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rollins.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1677665401?accountid=13584
Irvin, McKinley. “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.” Washington Divorce & Family Lawyer. McKinley Irvin Family Law, 30 Oct. 2012. Web. Accessed 12 Oct. 2016. https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce
Lawyer, Rocket. “Understanding the Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody.”Affordable Legal Services, Free Legal Documents, Advice & Ask a Lawyer. Rocket Lawyer, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.https://www.rcketlawyer.com/article/understanding-the-difference-between-physical-and-legal-custody.rl
Robbins, Sue. “Fatherhood In Florida.” Florida Bar Journal 84.10 (2010);24-32. Academic Search Premier. Web.12 Oct.2016
Russell, Tiffanie Moore. “Welcome to the Orange County Clerk of Courts.” Orange County Clerk of Courts Records Search. Orange County Clerk of Courts Records Search, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 04 Nov. 2016.
Vital Statistics, Dept. “Acknowledgment of Paternity.” ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PATERNITY (n.d.): n. pag. Florida Health. State Office of Vital Statistics, 1 Feb. 2006. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
About Me: I grew up in Pennsylvania at the age of eighteen I joined the USMC and spent a decade on the West Coast and overseas. I left the service for the sole reason to be in my girl’s life. She and I stay busy with her events such as Track, Soccer, Ballet, Preschool and playing at the park. I like to learn and challenge myself in many different ways. I came to Rollins because I like the way the classes were structured and the plan is to go to Crummer.