Family Law and Unmarried Child Custody Rights
Even the simplest of child custody cases can still be time-consuming and have complicated parts. If you and your child’s other parent never got married, this can make things even more complicated when it comes to determining what the child custody rights are. Even if the child’s parents were never married, each parent has the same rights when it comes to seeking out child custody or visitation rights. While many fathers in this scenario may feel like the court will automatically choose the mother as the child’s custodian, this is not necessarily the case. Family law judges make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child and hope to create a situation where both parents are as involved as possible in the child’s life.
What are some of the first steps in the child custody process?
When determining who should get custody of the child, you can expect that one of the first steps will be for the judge to order a paternity test. In the case of a mother and father not being married when their child is born, the father must legally establish paternity to show that he has the right to have custody of the child. It could be as simple as both parents signing an agreement that says he is the child’s father. However, if this is disputed, the court can order a DNA test.
Similar to other child custody cases, both parents will have the opportunity to sit down and establish an agreement that works for them and the children involved. In the best-case scenario, both parents are able to come to an agreement and go to court to have a judge sign off on it. If there are disagreements, however, a judge will look at both parents and come to a decision based on what they believe will be in the best interest of the child.
Is it likely that an unmarried father will win custody of a child?
This depends on the circumstances. For example, if the child is already living with the mother and a father petitions for sole custody, the father would need to show that the child is in danger by living with the mother or that she is somehow unfit to have custody of the child. On the other hand, a father may wish to have shared custody or visitation rights with the child so that they can continue to be a presence in their life. As long as the child is safe with the father, a court will want to make sure the child has both parents in his or her life.