I’m the father of a 6-month-old out of wedlock. The mother has only allowed me to see the baby a handful of times and rarely updates me on the child’s health and well-being.
I pay $242 every two weeks for daycare and also drop off diapers, baby formula and baby wipes every week. Today I received papers saying she is taking me to court to get child support.
I don’t have money for a lawyer and need to know my rights. Can I request split time-sharing so I have my daughter every other week?
I do not have all the facts of your specific case so I cannot provide you a full and complete response.
Child support and custody are separate issues although they are inevitably intertwined. Generally, the court will order either or both parents to pay child support to the other parent. The amount of time each parent spends with the child can affect the amount of child support paid.
In Florida, where I practice, the terms “custody” and “visitation” are no longer used. The Florida courts now use the terms “parental responsibility” and “time-sharing.” Parental responsibility refers to which parent makes the major decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. Time-sharing refers to the scheduled time each parent is supposed to spend time with their child as per the agreement.
A father of a child born out of wedlock does not have any parental rights until paternity is established by the court. Therefore, you would need to file a Petition to Establish Paternity as soon as possible.
A parenting plan will describe in detail how the parties will be responsible for the daily upbringing of the child, the time-sharing schedule, and methods of communication with the child. If you and the mother of the child cannot agree, the court will ultimately decide on a time-sharing schedule.
Furthermore, you should be keeping records of any monies paid to the mother of the child, including day care and other expenses. It is always best to give her a check instead of cash. In addition, you should also keep a journal, including the dates and times you attempted to contact the mother to arrange for time with the child. It is important that you gather as much evidence of her intent to be uncooperative in co-parenting with the minor child, like any email or text messages.
I would encourage you to contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your area that can examine the full details of your situation.