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Governor signs bill to help unmarried fathers fulfill their parental responsibilities

Senior Editor Top Stories
Rep. Christopher Benjamin

Rep. Christopher Benjamin

Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved a bipartisan measure that makes it easier for unmarried fathers to assume their parental responsibility.

DeSantis signed HB 775 on June 9. It takes effect July 1.

Rep. Christopher Benjamin, D-Miami Gardens, was the prime sponsor. Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, filed the companion.

Strongly supported by the Family Law Section, the measure creates a new procedure for unmarried fathers, with the mother’s consent, to establish paternity, child support, and visitation.

“It places unmarried fathers who have shown an interest…in the same position as a married father,” Yarborough told the Senate Children, Families & Elder Affairs Committee in April.

A recent Family Law Section white paper identified gaps in existing law “concerning parental rights and responsibilities of unwed parents after the acknowledgement or establishment of paternity.”

Jacksonville Magistrate Kristi Beth Luna told a Senate panel earlier this year that the Family Law Section supports the bill because it clarifies existing law and promotes better parenting.

“This bill is good legislation, it is positive for families in Florida, for children in Florida, and for fathers in this state,” she said.

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