Legally Establishing Parentage
You accepted responsibility, you signed the birth certificate, you have been active and involved in your child's life..
but under Florida law, you need a Court order to establish parental rights to a child born to a mother to whom you were not married to at the time of the child's birth (unless you subsequently marry the Mother and she was unwed at the time of the child's birth). This is because under Florida law, the Mother of a child born out of wedlock is the sole legal guardian of a minor child, which means she is able to make all the decisions related to the child, including where the child lives and when you (the other parent) can see the child - if at at all. There are many benefits to establishing parental rights, including (1) you get to be a participant in the life of your child and the other parent cannot dictate the terms of your relationship with your child (though the relationship will be governed by a court order and the established parenting plan); (2) ensures legal rights of the child to the various privileges of parentage (like inheritance rights, medical benefits, and the benefits of having another parent involved in the child's life).