It’s easy to be afraid during a divorce, especially when it comes to the children. What if they’re taken away? What if someone loses visitation rights? Unless a parent is directly endangering a child, these issues shouldn’t be a problem. Courts want to act in the best interest of the children, and most everyone agrees that regular access to both parents is best for the child.
Florida courts use a parenting plan to divide responsibilities among parents. The plan details visitation; communication; which parent pays for what thing; which parent has decision-making power over which aspect of the child’s life; and much more. It is a very thorough document.
If both parties are agreeable, they may even develop the plan themselves, without the court making the final decisions. The judges must step in and make these decisions when the parents can’t agree. Even then, the plan is so specific, it’s difficult to imagine a good father being cut off completely.
When researching father’s rights, remember that rights can be removed. If a father is found to be unfit, the courts can deny custody, decision-making power, visitation, etc. Also, rights may not apply if the parenting plan already has certain restrictions in place.
The state of Florida considers a “minor” or “child” to be anyone below the age of 18, and father’s rights apply to anyone in that age group.
Visitation is determined by the parenting plan. The plan goes into great detail about when, how often, and in what manner the father will have access to his kids. Everything is covered, from holidays to extracurricular activities. Once this plan is in place, the only way to change it is to go back to court. Fathers have full access to their kids as long as they follow the parenting plan. Only a judge can block or alter this agreement.
Dads have the right to participate in child support. Florida uses the “income shares” model of child support. Variations can occur based on court rulings, but in general, parents are responsible to pay a percentage of child support based on income. Both parents’ incomes are totaled, and then a percentage of that income is used toward child support. For example, the total income of the house is $8,000 per month. If Sam brings in $5,000, that is 63% of the total. Sarah brings in about 37%, or $3,000. Therefore, Sam will be responsible for 63% of the final child support cost.
Children can be added to a father’s health insurance. Veterans, Social Security, and life insurance benefits may be passed on to a child. Divorce should not change this. Fathers may pass along their benefits as they see fit.
Access to Records
A father has the right to access a child’s medical records. However, there are some exceptions. In most states, a minor can consent to certain types of medical care on their own. When a minor is allowed this freedom, they may also keep those records private.
Florida allows a minor, for example, to consent to several treatments regarding sexual health. This protection is there to shield children from repercussions at home. There doesn’t seem to be a cutoff for how old a child needs to be to receive these services. It is assumed, however, that these services will be available only to children who “[understand] the risks, benefits and proposed alternatives to certain health services.” It is safe to assume that very young children wouldn’t be given these services.
Sexual wellness to which a minor may consent includes:
- Medical and surgical care “related to pregnancy.” If the minor is pregnant or already a parent, they may have access to services such as prenatal care or pregnancy testing. Also, if a physician believes the minor’s health will be at risk without services “related to pregnancy,” the child may consent to these services without involving a parent.
- Emergency contraception in the form of the Plan B pill.
- STD services. The minor can be tested, and the results will be held confidential. Records may be sent to public officials if they are relevant to a suspected crime or if withholding this information may pose a health risk to the child. Even then, there’s no guarantee the records will be available to parents.
- Sexual assault treatment.
In the event of an emergency, minors can receive care without a parent’s consent. Minors can agree to substance abuse care, and a minor 13 or older can receive confidential mental health care.
In almost any other circumstance, Florida fathers have a right to access their child’s medical history.
Fathers have access to their child’s school records, including the ability to restrict access to third parties. Fathers may inspect, review, and challenge school records.
Fathers have every right to challenge their former partner. Once court orders have been set, the courts expect those orders to be followed. Just as any mother can go to court to force a deadbeat dad to comply, a father can do the same. If a mother is blocking communication, ignoring visitation agreements, or breaking any other part of the parenting plan, a father has every right to take the matter to court. Courts should not be making any exceptions based on the gender of the parent.
If you have concerns about your rights as a parent, or if you have a partner who is blocking agreements on your parenting plan, we can help. Consultations are free and there’s no risk involved, so call today at (305) 853-9161 or contact us online.