Parental Rights in Florida & House Bill HB 775

Under current Florida law, if a child is born to unmarried parents, the rights of natural guardianship defaults to the unmarried mother. This is called sole parental responsibility and makes the mother responsible for all decision making issues involving the child unless and until a court decides otherwise after establishing legal paternity. Doing so, however, did not automatically provide equal responsibility to both parents. Although not presumed in the Statutes, most Tampa Bay Family Courts have leaned towards 50/50 timesharing or parenting plan as well as equal or shared decision making (parental responsibility). In addition to this, child support and other issues relating to the minor child would be determined and ordered when paternity is established.

How Will HB 775 Change the Current Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents in Tampa Bay?

Under HB 775, Fathers who have established legal paternity will automatically enjoy shared parental responsibility or “legal guardianship.” Other matters such as timesharing, child support, child care, medical/dental, education expenses and other issues related to the minor child must still be determined by the courts.  Shared parental responsibility is separate from physical custody, and even if physical custody is not evenly split between the parents, shared parental responsibility ensures that both parents still have an equal say in decision-making.

The bill’s sponsor, said it will change how paternity is viewed in Florida stating, “When that father does that step-up, he now becomes a natural guardian of the child,” he said. “The unwed mother and father are the natural guardians of that child born out of wedlock, and all the rights of parenthood are conveyed on them both.” Source:

Tampa Family Law - Florida Family Law Father's rights, Tampa Bay Family Law, Child Custody Lawyers, Establish legal paternity

Passed unanimously in the House, senators also voted with identical support for HB 775.   Expected to be signed into law,  unwed fathers will gain the same parental rights mothers receive upon a child’s birth beginning July 1st, 2023.

Read: Florida House Bill HB775

July 1, 2023 Update


Parental Rights Attorneys, Tampa Bay FL

If you’re looking to establish legal paternity in Hillsborough, Pinellas or Pasco County, FL it is still highly beneficial to seek the counsel and representation of an experienced Tampa Bay family law and child custody attorney. Protecting the parental rights of fathers and mothers while looking to the best interest of your minor children is paramount in any family court proceeding. Hiring the best child custody attorney in Tampa for YOU begins with a consultation. “Because Nothing is More Important than Your Family.”

Contact Nilo J Sanchez & Associates PA Family Law & Divorce Attorneys Tampa Bay

Do you have questions about establishing paternity or questions about what this new law means in your particular situation? Call our office to schedule an affordable family law consultation or reach out to us below.