Child Custody Involving Unmarried Parents

Law Blog

Child custody involving unmarried parents is very complicated. The mother of the child automatically becomes the sole guardian until the court rules otherwise. The court's ruling on child custody usually considers the child's best interest. In many cases, a ruling on child custody on the father's part is based on a custody order and a paternity test. A family lawyer can help you obtain a child custody order and use a paternity test to ensure you're awarded custody rights.

Child's Best Interest

The child's best interest includes the time the child will spend with each parent and the involvement of each parent in raising the child. The courts will also consider the financial status of each parent. For example, the court will determine each parent's ability to provide financial support for the child.

The residence of the parents also affects the child's best interest. If the child has friends and is accustomed to the local community, the court will rule on an arrangement where the child remains in the same community setting. Additionally, the moral character of the parents will factor in the court's ruling. The parents must treat the child with affection, respect, and provide a safe environment for them.

Custody Orders for Unmarried Parents

The process of getting a custody order varies depending on the state where you reside. In many jurisdictions, an unmarried mother is granted the sole physical and legal custody of the child. However, the court can enforce a father's right if he has a custody order.

To obtain a custody order, your family attorney will file a custody case. Note that, if unmarried parents have a parenting plan, it can be turned into a custody order. However, if the parents can't agree and the case goes to trial, the judge will make their ruling based on the child's best interests. Under normal circumstances, the court will try to have the child spend sufficient time with both parents.

Paternity Test

Another way you can get child custody is by establishing your paternity. This means you have to acknowledge you're the child's father and have parental rights under the law. This includes the responsibility to support your child. In many cases, paternity is proven when the father's name is on the child's birth certificate.

If you have trouble establishing paternity, you'll have to file a lawsuit. In this case, you'll be required to take a paternity test. The court will only consider your right to custody, child support, or parenting time after establishing paternity. In cases where the father doesn't acknowledge paternity, the court will seek to determine whether the person the mother claims to be the father is actually the child's biological parent.

Reach out to a local family law attorney to learn more.


20 May 2021