Can I Get Custody Of My Child If I’m Not Married To The Mother?
Marriage and childbirth don’t always occur in that order. For some couples, marriage is simply not a consideration at all. In these circumstances, what rights do parents have with regard to their children in the event the adult relationship comes to an end? Is custody even an option in such cases? The answer is unequivocally yes.
Determining Paternity has Many Benefits for Children
In addition to custody issues, there are multiple benefits to establishing paternity. It’s a well known fact that having both parents involved in parenting and there to provide emotional support and love is beneficial to the wellbeing of the child. He deserves to know where he comes from and know the history of both parents as he established his own identity. Additionally, he deserves the financial support of both parents, whether or not they ever married. Finally, your child is entitled to additional benefits such as insurance, social security, veteran’s benefits, and so forth.
The first step for unmarried parents is to prove paternity. Even if your name is on the birth certificate, unwed fathers must legally assert their paternity in one of two ways:
Both parents can sign an affidavit acknowledging your paternity;
A paternity DNA test can be administered.
As soon as the court recognizes you as the legal father, you have the same rights and responsibilities as any other parent in terms of custody, visitation, decision-making, and support.
The courts will always make custody decisions by considering the best interests of the child as paramount. Custody is divided into physical and legal. It is possible for any number of arrangements, although we most commonly see one parent with physical custody, while both parents share legal custody. If both parents wish to file a Petition for Custody, the court will give your petition equal weight with the mother’s petition. If, on the other hand, you do not want physical custody but do want to be involved in your child’s life, you and your former partner will simply have to work together to create a parenting plan that works for everyone involved. It will detail your visitation, specifying how special events and holidays are to be handled. The agreement will also lay out the ground rules for making decisions relating to the child. There may be different guidelines for day-to-day decisions—will the child play on a softball team?– versus more serious—what religious upbringing is appropriate?– or emergency decisions—should a medical condition be treated with surgery or medicines?
Advocating for Dads
If you are an unmarried father who is concerned about these issues, the Springfield child custody lawyers at Courtney & Mills, LLC have the experience and determination to fight for your rights. These are big stakes; you want legal representation you can count on. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.