Custody With Unmarried Parents: What You Need To Know

Child custody is a touchy and complicated topic in the most straightforward circumstances. In cases where the parents are not married, it can become even more complex to manage. Many circumstances like this result in the mother gaining custody of the children, leaving the father having to pursue custody if he chooses to do so. The following are some general guidelines regarding child custody when the parents never married:

The Rights of the Mother

Although both married and unmarried parents will have to deal with similar issues during child custody, it is a bit more difficult when you are not married. In general, the mother is granted custody of the children when the parents are not married, giving her the authority to make all primary decisions for the welfare of the children.

These decisions can include where the children live, what school they attend, where they go to school, their health needs, and the like.

The Rights of the Father

In amicable cases, any father who wants to be in his children's lives will be able to work out a situation where he can have some form of joint custody. In less amicable situations, this process can be more difficult. In unmarried situations, the father's name is sometimes left off the birth certificate. When the father's name is not on the child's birth certificate, paternity has to first be established before any custodial rights are afforded.

Once paternity has been established, the father will then need to show the court that he is capable of being a suitable parent. When the mother is involved, it is rare for a father to be given primary custody of the children. However, if he can prove that he is a solid fixture in the children's lives and plays a significant daily role, the custody arrangement can be modified to reflect those circumstances.

Dealing with Child Support

Both parents must support the children no matter if marriage took place or not. The judge will look at the financial situation of both parents to see how both contribute to the children's welfare and if one parent should pay the other. As situations change, such as a job loss or significant drop in pay, the support payments can be changed to reflect that.

Being unmarried with children makes a custody a bit more difficult. However, you need to do what is best for your children. Be sure to work with a reputable attorney to get your custody sorted out properly. Contact an attorney, like Patricia L Riddick PLLC Atty, for more help.