Who Has Custody of a Child When the Parents Are Not Married?

In comparison to unwed parents, married couples typically possess far more legal rights when it comes to their children. It is essential that you comprehend what your parental privileges are in this predicament. If being an active part of your child’s life is something you aspire for, then taking actionable steps towards accomplishing that goal may be necessary.

Children of Married Parents

Generally, when the biological parents of a child are married to one another, they both have equal rights regarding the upbringing and care of their progeny. This includes spending time with them as well as making decisions about where they live or attend school. However, if only one party is legally considered the parent following divorce proceedings – such as in cases involving step-parents – it may be subject to state law whether visitation privileges remain intact after separation occurs. Certain jurisdictions provide former step-parents the right to seek visitation if they already had a close relationship with their stepchild, and such an association ending would cause harm.

Automatic Rights in the Mother

In most states, if the mother and father are not married to each other, the mother retains automatic custody rights over her child. This rule applies even if she was unmarried at birth or there is no pre-existing court order for visitation rights with the infant.

For instance, in Texas, an unmarried mother is the sole legal and custodial parent of her child until a court order states otherwise. This means that she has full rights to determine who can have contact with her baby, restrict access for certain individuals if necessary, register them at school and apply for public benefits on their behalf. Moreover, all other significant decisions regarding the life of said minor remain within the mother’s jurisdiction.

Father’s Assertion of Rights To Children

If a father wishes to legally affirm their paternity, they can do so by launching the process in court. Establishing paternal rights varies from state to state and may be accomplished through an array of methods– such as publically affirming parenthood. For instance, at the time of birth fathers often sign documents acknowledging their legal status as parent. Allowing you to declare your rightful position in your child’s life with confidence!

To determine if a man is the biological father of a child, he may consider taking a DNA test. When his name is on the birth certificate in certain states, he will acquire similar legal rights to those of the mother’s. However, due to varying regulations surrounding this matter, fathers seeking parental authority should consult with an experienced family law attorney familiar with their state’s laws.

Factors the Court Considers

When making decisions concerning visitation or custody, various aspects are taken into consideration. Although many states prohibit courts from awarding custody to the mother solely because she is a woman, it has become more commonplace for maternal guardianship to be granted today. Nonetheless, gender should not play a role in these determinations.

The court will weigh all relevant factors when making a decision, including the mental and physical wellbeing of each parent, their work hours and earnings, any history of drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence on either side, who has been caring for the child until this point in time, which parent is more inclined to foster a healthy relationship between both parents and extended family members, the moral fiber of each parent involved in the case as well as any expressed preferences from the child. The court’s ultimate objective is to make decisions that prioritize the wellbeing of the children.

Parents Who Live Together 

In the case of unmarried parents living together, they may still grapple with many of the same legal issues as those who are not cohabiting. The mother usually has automatic custody rights in these cases regardless. On a more positive note though, fathers can prove their meaningful relationship to a child even if the parents later part ways—a right that is heavily determined by state law. If there was an established bond between father and his ex-partner’s kid for multiple years prior to break up, he could possibly seek out visitation rights depending on current laws too!