Skip to Content
St. Petersburg Divorce & Family Lawyers
Paternity & Father's Rights

Paternity & Father’s Rights

Understanding Father’s Rights & Responsibilities

When unmarried parents have a child, the father has no legal custody rights unless he asserts them through a paternity action. However, he may still be obligated to pay child support. If you are an unmarried father, protect your parental rights by consulting with an experienced Florida paternity lawyer.

If you are an unmarried father –or if a woman with whom you had a relationship claims you fathered a child and wants support—prompt, decisive action can be critical. Under Florida’s “Natural Guardian” statute, Fla. Stat. 744.301, the only way to establish legal custody rights and other rights to involvement with your child is to file an action for paternity. All too often, fathers rely on informal agreements to maintain contact with their children and avoid problems with child support. This can lead to serious regrets and financial liabilities.

Assistance Obtaining Paternal Rights

At Emerson Law, P.A., we represent fathers and mothers in paternity actions in Pinellas County, Florida, and throughout the surrounding region. We help fathers “activate” their rights through paternity actions and help couples establish clear time-sharing and support obligations. By offering honest, upfront counsel, we seek to help you assert your rights and maintain your relationship with your child.

Determining Paternity

In common language, paternity is a test used to determine the biological father of a child. But in a civil law proceeding, it is used to resolve custody and child support issues for unmarried parents. Paternity issues are common in cases involving child support, but can also be a factor in adoption, inheritance, custody, visitation and health care.

If you are asked to pay child support for a child you aren’t sure is yours, it is important to determine paternity now. If DNA testing proves that you are the father, you may be liable for back child support on payments that have not been made. Contact us for more information.

Protecting Your Relationship with Legal Action

Emerson Law, P.A. understands that as a father, a man has a right to spend time with his child and take part in the child’s upbringing. However, this may not be an option if he has not legally asserted his parental rights. Once the rights are established, if the mother of the child is upset or has a disagreement with the father, she can’t choose to force him out of the child’s life. Establishing paternity can also keep the mother from relocating with the child if this would adversely affect the child and the father’s time-share rights.

If you are a father and not married to your child’s mother, it is important that you contact a paternity lawyer to assert your parental rights. Establishing paternity legally could also greatly reduce your child support obligation. Cody Emerson, Esq. has experience representing unmarried fathers in paternity actions. Emerson Law, P.A. will help you take the necessary steps to protect your rights to interact with your child and to ensure that you will play an active role in your child’s future.

At Emerson Law, P.A., we are upfront and honest about what parents can expect and help them form realistic goals. Contact us or call us at (727) 855-6587 today for a consultation to discuss your case in more detail with one of our family law attorneys.

  • "He held my hand through my entire custody process."

    Mr. Emerson for lack of a better phrase held my hand through my entire custody process. I was very busy with other personal matters during the custody procedures, but my case never missed a beat due to Mr. Emersons diligence. I would highly recommend him to anyone needing an attorney in any of his areas of expertise. Mr. Emersons rates were also fantastic when I compared a few different lawyers.

    - Nicholas
  • "I very much recommend Cody to everyone if you want a good dependable lawyer."

    I can't say enough about a small legal problem I had and I retained Cody Emerson to represent me. Not only did he win my case but he and his staff went above and beyond to get my problems resolved. I very much recommend Cody to everyone if you want a good dependable lawyer.

    - Karen M.
  • "I would highly recommend him!"

    Mr. Emerson is an excellent attorney and I would highly recommend him. Cody and his team are professional and provided prompt responses to any questions I had throughout the entire process. He made a difficult process as smooth as possible and never gave me unreasonable expectations.

    - Nicole P.
  • "I hold him in high regard and will recommend him!"

    There’s no question Cody is a talented and dedicated lawyer. I hold him in high regard and will recommend him to anyone going through a divorce. Not only did he take over my case and accomplish more in a month than a whole year; he kept my mind at ease and helped me make some tough decisions. He’s extremely detail oriented and amazingly smart. I’m so grateful for all he’s done for me. If you’re looking for a trustworthy lawyer, he’s your guy!

    - Sheli M.
  • "Cody is an outstanding attorney!"

    I feel lucky to have had Cody Emerson and his team on my side during my divorce. Cody is an outstanding attorney, highly respected by the judge and court. He got me everything I hoped for, but didn't think that it was possible to get. Thank you, Cody, Kali and Jason for patiently putting up with me during these last two, most difficult years of my life and taking such good care of me. You guys are the best! Thank you!!!

    - Eva

    Contact Emerson Law, P.A. Today!

    We’re Ready to Help

    A member of our team will be in touch shortly to confirm your contact details or address questions you may have.

    • Please enter your first name.
    • Please enter your last name.
    • Please enter your phone number.
      This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.
    • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy
    • Effective Legal Representation
      We will not waste your time or money trying to litigate cases that do not make sense from a cost-benefit analysis perspective.
    • Personalized Strategies & Results
      We believe that each case and client is unique, and provide the legal assistance that is right for you and your budget.
    • Compassionate & Honest Representation
      We approach every case with a focus on integrity, advocacy, and understanding.
    • Virtual Consultations Available
      You don't need to come to our office to meet with our team. We can meet virtually!