There is an assumption that fathers have fewer rights than mothers when the parties have not been married, and initially this is true, however, if there is a paternity action filed and timesharing is requested, the father may be given equal timesharing as the mother or more timesharing depending upon the circumstances. The old doctrine of Tender Years no longer exists, but there is a common myth that fathers should not be given as much time with their children as mothers regardless of the parties' work schedules. The truth is, the Florida Statutes are written to encourage both parents to equally participate in the lives of their children including timesharing and financial support. By way of illustration, let me share a story of one of my cases.
Last year a client came to me after not seeing his three children for over a year and a half. The children's mother had fled the state with the children and did not advise the father where they were. Through a diligent search and the assistance of the mother's family, the children were found and an emergency motion for pickup was filed in Broward County. In this case there was a pending paternity action in Broward County. The Court ordered the children returned to Florida which was their home state. The father was awarded full custody until a hearing could be held to determine timesharing for parents. Subsequent to the children returning to Florida, the mother attempted to remove the children from the father's home again by claiming domestic violence had occurred in the home. The parties had never lived together again and had no contact at all. The case was dismissed as having no foundation and the mother was again punished for her manipulation of the court. The father was awarded equal timesharing with the children, he was provided a credit for child support for the time he had the children and the mother was no longer to solely claim the children on her tax return preventing the father from any tax credit due him. It was a long protracted fight, but the law was on his side and he now enjoys a healthy and happy relationship with his three children. The Florida Statute's intention was fulfilled as it was meant to be.