When you’re not married and decide to separate, you need to think carefully about how you set up custody. It’s common to see unmarried couples fight over child custody, but your situation doesn’t have to be that way. While it can be hard to resolve custody concerns, you can do so in a way that results in the best outcome for your child.
The legal rights of each parent in this kind of case could be a little different than in a divorce scenario. To begin with, if the father has not been established legally, he may need to have a DNA test done or sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. To voluntarily assume paternity, both the mother and father need to sign the document.
What happens if a man hasn’t established paternity?
If the father hasn’t yet established that he is the legal parent of the child, then he may not have custodial rights. This would mean that if the case went to court, the mother of the child could assume full custody until that is sorted out.
Nonmarried couples don’t have an automatic assumption of paternity to fall back on, so remember that you or your now ex-partner will need to establish paternity at some point. If that happened at the hospital or you already handled this in court, then the custody arrangements can be handled similarly to a married couple’s custody case. You’ll need to negotiate and work out a parenting plan and custody schedule that you and your ex can abide by and that is in the best interests of your children.
What happens if one person doesn’t commit to visits or custody dates?
If you’re running into problems with custody, this is when you may want to talk to your attorney about asking the court to modify custody. When one parent has abandoned or refused to see their children, there may be steps you can take to modify custody and minimize issues in the future. If the arrangements simply don’t work with a work schedule or other obligations, then it may need to be altered.