Written by attorney Wendy J. Norman

Mothers’ rights

Mothers have rights to their children, whether or not they were ever married to the child’s father. There will be times when issues will arise in regards to paternity, child custody, visitation, and support that will need to be resolved legally.

Domestic violence

One common reason why a mom may need to retain an attorney has to do with child abuse and/or spousal abuse. These types of situations are extremely sensitive, and must be handled with the highest level of care, especially when the mother and her children are in imminent danger from the abuser. Whether the father is her boyfriend, or her husband, there are specific legal actions that can be taken in order to protect a woman and her children from the father. An attorney can help her take out an order of protection against the abuser so he can be prohibited from contacting her or the children. If he violates the order of protection, he can face criminal consequences and potential jail time.

Domestic violence is a widespread problem that affects every race and every socioeconomic class. Domestic violence victims are oftentimes in a constant state of fear of their attacker, and are oftentimes afraid to leave them because they fear of what their abuser might do to them, or their children. Fortunately, when friends and family turn domestic violence victims away, they can receive much needed support from an experienced attorney. Victims of spousal abuse or women whose boyfriends or husbands abuse their children have legal rights, and it is essential that they exercise those rights in order to remove themselves and their children from the dangerous environment at home.

Child custody and child support

When raising her child, a woman has certain rights over child custody and child support. If a mother wishes to obtain child support from the child’s birth father, yet they were never married, then she would have to have paternity legally established. It is an automatic assumption that a female is the natural mother of a child simply because she gave birth to the child; however, a father does not have an automatic right to his child if he is not married to the mother.

If a mother would like to obtain child support from the birth father, and if she would like her child to enjoy medical insurance benefits from the father, then she will need to have paternity legally established beforehand. One factor to keep in mind however that is once paternity is legally established, then the birth father can exercise his legal rights to custody and visitation over his child. A woman will have to keep that in mind when deciding whether or not she wishes to establish paternity any further.


For divorcing couples, the Florida courts prefer to encourage an active relationship between both parents and the children. The courts do not have a gender preference when determining child custody. As long as both parents are of sound mind, and both want to be in their children’s lives, then the courts will encourage "shared parenting," where both parents participate in the child’s upbringing. Ideally, the spouses will agree on a child custody arrangement, but when they can’t come to terms on an arrangement, and then the courts will make a determination for them.

Getting assistance

If you need assistance with a legal matter, a Family Law Attorney will be able to help you. They can help you with all matters relating to child custody, domestic abuse, child support, visitation, paternity, orders of protection and divorce. They can also help you with financial matters involving costs relating to the birth of the child, medical insurance for the child, attorney’s fees and costs associated with litigation. If you are facing a legal matter relating to your child, you are highly encouraged to contact a skilled family attorney right away!

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Avvo child custody email series

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer