The legal challenges that parents face during a child custody battle aren’t that different, whether they are married or not. Although child custody laws vary from one state to another, the major consideration in the case of unmarried parents is whether they are the mother or the father of the child.
Natural Right to Custody
In general, mothers have the natural right or primary custody of the children if they aren’t married. Her legal rights to child custody and care are superior than the father’s or any other person. The only time mothers lose that right is when other parties can prove she’s unfit or has abandoned the children.
The law considers abandonment when the mother fails to exercise her parental responsibilities. This may also apply to fathers. In most states, this occurs when a parent, who doesn’t have physical custody, fails to contact or support the child (even if they have the ability to do so) for two years.
Father’s Custodial Rights
The father, on the other hand, can only have an equal amount of standing in court as the mother if his name is on the child’s birth certificate. In this case, MatthewsFamilyLawyers.com says the unmarried parents have to go through the process called “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities”.
If you’re the non-legal father of the child, you have slim chances of winning custody. The best solution is to adopt the kid, as adoption makes you a legal parent, which comes with all the parental rights.
The Case of Child Support
In case you won custody of your child, you can still demand for child support from the other parent. The same goes if you lose the battle, as child support depends on the needs of the children, not the marital status or lack thereof of the parents. But, in case the stepparent got custody, the biological parents don’t have any financial obligation to the child.
Child custody battles may involve several complex and emotional issues, especially if the unmarried parents aren’t in good terms. To help defend your rights, hire a competent child custody lawyer.