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How Many Parents Can a Florida Child Legally Have?


On behalf of Sparkman Law Firm posted in Business Law on Thursday, May 12th, 2018

A five-year-old child is at the heart of an unprecedented legal battle in Florida. The child’s mother and her husband were married at the time of the child’s birth, but the husband is not the biological father of the child. Can a child have three legal parents? It’s up to the Florida Supreme Court to decide.

What Current Florida Law Says

In the State of Florida, the law says that the man married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth is the legal father of the child. This is true even if the man married to the child’s mother is not the biological father. However, this case is a prime example of how some of Florida’s custody laws may be considered outdated and unsupportive of today’s unique and blended families.

Who Should Have Legal Rights?

Under the law, legal parents have certain rights that step-parents and other adult figures in the child’s life don’t have. For example, the right to make medical decisions on behalf of the child falls to the legal father. In this case, that would mean that the biological father has no say in what happens to his child.

Were the situation reversed, the child’s mother’s husband — who has been raising the child for five years — would not have a say in what happens to his child.

No state to date has allowed for three parents to have legal rights over a child, however, statistics show that this may need to change.

More Than Half of Today’s Kids Have an Untraditional Family

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, only 46% of children under the age of 18 lived with two heterosexual, married parents. This is compared to data 1960, when 73% of children reported the same.

The fact is, today’s families are changing both in Florida and across the country. More children than ever are part of unique family structures with a mix of stepparents, biological parents, and grandparents. It may be time for Florida law to change along with the times, however, that will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.

Do You Have a Complex Custody Case? Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney

Custody cases are always challenging, but many are legally complex. If you are dealing with such a case, it’s important that you have an experienced child custody lawyer on your side who can help you navigate Florida’s often difficult legal system.

Contact Sparkman Law today for a consultation at (813) 374-2000.

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