December 16, 2021

Child Custody Laws in Florida for Unmarried Parents

Every time parents separate, it’s the children who suffer the most. That’s why parents should always try to reach an agreement regarding timesharing and child support whenever there are children involved. 

Unfortunately, discussing these things and reaching an agreeable decision for both parties is often challenging.

Typically, parents going through a divorce are encouraged to go through mediation to compromise amicably. But what happens if the parents are unmarried? Can one of the parents keep the child away from the other? 

In this post, Dorsey Law JAX focuses on the child custody laws for parents in Florida who are unmarried:

Does Florida Law Recognize Common Law Marriage?

In Florida, the only way for a couple to be legally married is by getting a marriage license from the state. Otherwise, the couple is considered to be unmarried.

It’s essential to note that the status of being “unmarried” doesn’t just affect child custody issues. This also impacts child support obligations, child support calculations, and other rights associated with parental status.

Can a Non-Married Parent in Florida Seek Sole Custody?

As mentioned above, Florida law doesn’t recognize common law marriage. Therefore, any father who is not married to a child’s mother is not presumed the legal parent.

It’s crucial to note that a court may be able to allocate timesharing in a more favorable way to the non-custodial parent. 

Are Parents in Florida Who are Not Married Considered “Parents” Under the Law?

Yes. Of course, a child born out of wedlock is still considered a child in the eyes of the law. This is no different from children born to married couples.

How Does a Court Determine Child Custody in Non-Marriage Child Custody Cases?

If parents are not married, the court still has the authority to determine the parenting plan.

In order to make this determination, the court has to follow the guidelines set forth by the Florida legislature. In the parenting plan, the court must consider the following factors amount others:

1. The interests of the child;

2. The wishes of the parents;

3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with relatives, other children, and persons who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;

4. The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community;

5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved (including the child);

6. Which parent can best provide for the child and the child’s needs; and

7. Which parent is more likely to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.


A non-married parent in Florida still has the same rights and obligations as a married parent. This means that it’s essential for unmarried parents to understand their rights and responsibilities.

If you’re an unmarried parent and you’re seeking child custody in Florida, Dorsey Law JAX can help you. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation with a seasoned family attorney!


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