Who Gets Child Custody If the Parents Aren’t Married?
Legally established parents will almost certainly be treated like they were married regarding custody and child support problems. In most states and situations, an unmarried mother who gives birth to a child is immediately granted exclusive custody.
Without a court order, a father who fails to establish his paternity is not legally entitled to his kids. Unmarried fathers are not presumed to be biologically linked to their children by default because there isn’t any presumption of paternity. As a result, single fathers may not be granted visitation or even custody of their children.
It appears to be highly unjust and biased toward the parent who is single at first. This system exists to stop single mothers from requesting child support from their husbands, as it would be unjust to do so without first proving the father’s paternity and granting him rights.
What Happens if Unmarried Parents Fight Over Custody?
Again, a lot depends on how each state manages custody of children whose parents are unmarried and what would happen in a custody dispute between unmarried parents. In most cases, the judge will grant split custody. Certain states allow for shared custody, but only if one parent serves as the custodial parent.
Being denied any visitation rights in general for one parent is unusual. Generally speaking, such situations would only arise if it were determined that one parent was abusive or otherwise unsuitable to be a parent. If the child were to interact with the non-custodial parent, the court would have to have compelling evidence that doing so would harm the child’s welfare.
The father must petition the family court to prove his paternity if the child’s mother contests his claim. Furthermore, the father must petition to establish paternity if the single pair does not reside together. The single father is eligible for all parental rights that a married father could have after paternity has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Both parties must make every effort to maintain good communication and be willing to make concessions to prevent a drawn-out custody dispute. Collaborating to develop a fair and reasonable parenting plan the court will accept is another strategy to prevent a custody dispute. A custody dispute wouldn’t be in the child’s best interests.
Do Unmarried Fathers Have Custody Rights?
The answer is yes, as was previously stated. Unmarried mothers and fathers are both entitled to visitation and custody rights. Regardless of whether the unmarried couple had an extended relationship, there is typically a bias towards one of the mothers in these situations. When two people don’t stay together long, the mother is typically the child’s primary caregiver. Therefore, courts typically grant mothers sole custody unless the mom is unsuitable for raising the child or the dad is the child’s primary caregiver. The latter could be the outcome of instances in which the mother refused to raise the child and surrendered it to the father or if a mother had a history of legal issues. In certain areas, the mother is granted custody by default until the father files a petition for custody, which is unlikely to be approved unless paternity is established and the mother is deemed unsuitable.
On the other hand, courts assume that children benefit from having both parents. Hence, unmarried men can frequently obtain shared custody. As a result, unless there is proof of domestic abuse, drug abuse, or other problems that would make it dangerous for them to stay around the children, unmarried fathers are automatically granted visitation rights.
Where Does Child Custody Fall When The Parents Are Not Married?
Child Custody When Parents Are Not Married
An ever-increasing number of US residents are choosing not to marry. However, often they still choose to have children. Hence, a lot of children are born to unmarried parents. It opens the door to many questions about paternity, custody, and support. Understanding this as you go forward is crucial, especially if you desire to play a vital role in your child’s life.
The first obstacle in the matter of custody is often that of paternity. When two people are married, they are presumed to be the biological parents to any child conceived. When the parents are unmarried, there are additional steps in the process, although they do not need to be complicated. A straightforward method involves both parents signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which they file at the Office Of Vital Records, and the birth certificate is then produced based on it.
That being said, if the mother attempts to block the father in the acknowledgment of paternity, he may bring suit in court so that he can take a DNA test. A mother may also bring a suit if the man alleged to be the father will not acknowledge paternity. Apart from unusual cases, DNA tests are conclusive. However, providing paternity does not equal custody – it simply means there is a right to petition for it. Paternity recognition affects child support as well.
Questions Related To Custody
After establishing paternity, Nevada law (NRS 125C.001) requires that the child’s best interests be considered while deciding on custody. Maintaining a relationship with both parents is generally considered beneficial unless circumstances make such a relationship unfit. Several factors are taken into account when deciding which parent would be best for the child, including the child’s preference (if they are old enough to express it), the child’s relationship with each parent, the need to establish new relationships such as moving or changing schools, and the mental health of each parent as well as any history of violence.
Awarding joint custody is common in Nevada courts; this is especially true when both parents can sit down and plan how to parent together. So long as you can prove that you have good character and can provide a stable home life for your child, there is a high likelihood that at the least you will be granted joint custody, as stated in NRS 125C.002.
Enlist The Help Of An Attorney Who Has Experience
Things can get very personal, and custody battles can become complicated, even when both parents are married. Having a lawyer in your corner who has experience in paternity and custody law can help remove a lot of the confusion and delay, especially considering the importance of the end result. At Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd, the attorneys have much experience in such cases and are happy to help you figure out the best way forward. Give us a call today, and we will set up an initial appointment together.
You’ll find all kinds of options if you’re looking for a child support attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. Take the time to find a lawyer who meets your own needs. Every person is different, and no two divorce cases are the same. Choose the right attorney for your case.
What Are Some Other Problems That Unmarried Parents Might Experience?
Unestablished paternity is the primary issue leading to other problems for unmarried parents. The voluntary recognition of paternity often used in most states is accomplished by having the mom and the presumed dad sign a paper. After that, it is sent to the relevant state office, usually the Office of Vital Records. This office adds the father’s name to the child’s official birth certificate. In addition to signing it afterward, a voluntary admission of paternity could be completed at the hospital during the baby’s delivery.
Unmarried parents must choose which parent can claim the kids on their taxes since only one parent may do so. Furthermore, the child support payment cannot be deducted from the parent’s salary. That support cannot be subtracted from paying the parent’s taxes.
Another problem is that you may lack legal authority to decide for a child if you are their non-legal parent. That would occur, for instance, if you were raising your partner’s child. First preference is given to legal parents. Therefore, the wisest course is to become the child’s legal parent by adoption.
Child support could turn into a problem. The custodial parent is entitled to financial help from the non-custodial parent to care for their shared child properly. It is true even if the parents are not married. However, if the stepparent adopts the child, the child’s other biological parent receives an exemption from making child support payments.
Suppose the parents are unmarried and reside in different states; that presents another problem. The child’s home state is the court with jurisdiction over child custody disputes, per the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). The child’s native state loses jurisdiction if they have resided in another state for six months or longer.
What Unmarried Couples Should Do to Make Sure Child Custody Is Settled Amicably?
Married parents going through a separation or divorce have the same responsibilities as unmarried couples who don’t live together or are divorcing. They are supposed to work together in creating the child’s parenting plan.
If you and your co-parent get along well, you ought to be able to collaborate to create a plan that’s best for the child. A parenting plan should cover matters like who has the child on which holidays, who decides what extracurricular activities and education, etc. When a child reaches adulthood, they need to participate in creating their parenting plan. Generally speaking, courts will approve a parenting plan once it has been established and agreed upon. A court’s decision to overturn a parenting arrangement is uncommon and usually indicates that they believe the child will be in danger with either or both of their parents. After the court issues an order, your parenting plan becomes legally binding, and any changes must be discussed again with the child or yourself.
Even amicable couples can benefit from mediation since emotions can run high, and a mediator may help you look past your personal feelings to the child’s best interests.
Things can become considerably more difficult if you aren’t on good terms. You will require a lawyer to support your interests while dealing with the other parent, but legal assistance is always a good idea.
Should your co-parent prevent you from seeing the child, you may petition the court to assist with custody or visitation. Fathers should be prepared to ask for and complete a paternity test in this case. (Be advised that the outcomes might not meet your expectations in certain rare instances. Additionally, the courts are not likely to acknowledge your rights if you aren’t the child’s biological father, whatever any emotional attachments).
It’s crucial to work with a lawyer to know your rights and get the desired result because the rules are so intricate and differ from state to state. That is especially true if you and your co-parent are at odds over custody; even in these situations, a lawyer can assist with mediation, creating a parenting plan that the courts will approve, and other matters.
Contact Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd, to learn what action we can take if you are an unmarried parent divorcing a spouse or have a child with someone you are not in a committed relationship. You need to determine custody and visitation rights. We are here to assist you in navigating the complex field of family law and achieving an outcome that benefits you and your child or children.
Our law firm gives free consultations so you can decide if Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd. is right for you. Call us at (702) 474-0500 to schedule an appointment today.
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