Not all parents will be married when they have a child. There are occasions when getting pregnant is not enough motivation to walk down the aisle. The discussions about child custody can get very complicated when the parents are unmarried. That is why it is important that you look for a Norwalk divorce lawyer if you ever find yourself in such a situation. Have you ever wondered what would happen to your kids if you split up with your spouse when you’re not married?
There are legal implications to such a scenario and who gets the children will depend on a couple of factors. Is there a possibility that both parents could have an equal chance of having custody over the children? There is no clear answer to this question as it will depend on the circumstances of the case.
Fathers Establishing Paternity
As a father, you might be required to establish paternity of the children. From a general perspective, a father and a mother will share equal rights when it comes to child custody unless there is an issue with domestic violence. A father will have to go through a few extra steps in order to get full parental rights. The process of identifying a child’s legal mother is straightforward with no complications.
Fathers don’t give birth and there is a chance that the woman might have been intimate with someone else while still cohabiting with the alleged father of the children. As a result, there could be questions raised if the man is truly the biological father of the children.
Why Establishing Paternity is Necessary
A mother could make it harder for the man to gain child custody if the paternity is in question. The man might not be granted custody if he is not the biological father of the children. A man could also use it as an excuse to avoid paying child support if the paternity is unclear.
Establishing Paternity in California
There are two distinct ways of establishing paternity in California and this through court order or the declaration of paternity.
Declaration of Paternity
In order to establish paternity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an argument or a fight. If both the parents are sure that the man is the father, they can sign a Voluntary Declaration. The form is usually signed at the hospital when the child is born. The father will be presumed to be the biological father of the child if both parties agree on the fact.
A genetic test might be ordered by the court if there are disagreements between the two parents. The court might require that the father go through a genetic test if:
He doesn’t have a Declaration of Paternity
Either of the parents has requested a visitation order, child custody, and child support.
A man can also decide to take a DNA test just to confirm he is the biological father of the child.
Same-sex couples are also not obliged to be married in order to have children together. It will be necessary for one of the parents to petition the court in establishing that they are the lawful parents of the child. This will mean that the couple has to establish they intend to be the child’s parents and also act in a manner to suggest so. It is only after the court legally recognizes the parents will they be able to enjoy the full benefits of having children.
Equal Rights to Custody
If all factors are held constant, both parents will have equal rights to custody over the child. This will happen when there is no question with the paternity of the father. The parents will have to agree on a custody arrangement that works for them. The court is usually involved when both parents can’t seem to agree on the details of the custody. The court will act as a mediator if the unmarried parents can’t seem to agree. If the mediation is not successful, the court will make a decision with the child’s best interest at heart. The custody could be taken away if one of the parents is abusing drugs or is involved in a domestic violence case.
Factors that Determine Custody and Visitation
In case of a contest, the court will be forced to look at a couple of factors before making a determination. The time spent with the child and the level of being involved in the child’s upbringing will significantly impact the custody and visitation rights. A court will not want to deprive someone of their rights unless it is completely necessary. Other factors that could be used in the determination of the case include:
Residence of the Parent: A child needs to be as comfortable as possible with the place residence. Will also include the surrounding community and school.
Moral Character: The moral character of each parent is analyzed when looking at who should get custody over the children. The parent needs to treat the child with respect and provide a safe environment that is nurturing and supportive.
Financial Status: The financial status of each parent is called into question when looking at who gets custody of the child. A parent needs to prove that he or she can properly take care of a child from a financial perspective.
In case the parents are not married, it will be in the best interest of the child that the parents remain friendly and amicable when deciding the custody. If there are no issues, both the parents have equal rights and it is something that can be worked out without involving the family court. It is good that you put your ego aside for the wellbeing of the children. Sometimes one parent could be difficult to reason with and there will be no other option but to involve in the court. You should also make sure you’re getting a good family lawyer to represent you.