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Who Gets Custody of the Children When Parents Are Not Married?

Each state in the United States has laws regarding custody and visitation of minor children. The rules are different for married individuals than they are for unmarried individuals. Married individuals have equal custody according to the laws of most states in the United States. Either parent can claim the child and the other parent would have a difficult time removing him or her from the other parent without visiting a courtroom. The situation between unmarried parents is different.

In some states, the mother automatically has custody of a child when the parents are unmarried. If the father wants rights to the child, he will have to establish paternity first. Paternity can be established in one of two ways. The first way is by signing the birth certificate when the child is first born. The father can do this at the hospital when the mother gives birth. The other way that a father can establish paternity is by requesting a DNA test by petitioning the courts. Once the father establishes paternity, he can then try to obtain custody of the child.

Types of Custody Arrangements

Each state has different custody arrangements that it may grant to the parent or parents. Sole custody is a situation in which one parent has full custodial rights. The other parent may receive visitation time or parenting time. Joint custody is a situation in which both parents have physical and residential custody. One parent may have the child during one part of the year, and the other parent may have the child during another part of the year. Both parents would be responsible for the child’s health, educational and living decisions.

How to Get Custody

Any party who is interested in obtaining custody will want to contact an attorney for advice and assistance. An attorney knows all aspects of family laws in the state. That person will be able to help a loving parent to get custody of his or her child. Cordell & Cordell is an example of a firm that can help with such a subject. The lawyer can present the case, and the judge will decide which parent can provide stable housing and such for the child. The judge will look at each parent’s criminal record, mental health, financial status and the like.

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