What are the Parental Rights of Unmarried Parents?

Unmarried parents generally have the same challenges married parents encounter where child custody is concerned. Although the laws vary depending on the state, whether you are the mother or father of a child will be the main area of focus regarding your parental rights. If you have questions regarding your rights as an unmarried parent, you may want to contact Kelly Krail and Thomas Bojko, experienced family attorneys.

Mother’s Parental Rights

An unmarried mother is generally regarded as having primary custody and the right to her children. As a result, she has the legal right to have custody, control over the child and the care of the child. As a general rule, the mother’s rights take precedence over the father’s or anyone else. However, parental rights of an unmarried mother can be revoked if she is deemed unfit or abandons her child.

Father’s Parental Rights

An unmarried father can be awarded custody of a child if he takes proper legal action. In the majority of the states, if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he is automatically and legally recognized as being the child’s father. He also has the same standing in court as the child’s mother. If the mother is fit and a good parent, an unmarried father cannot gain primary custody of the child. However, the father can gain partial custody or visitation.

Factors Courts Consider for Custody or Visitation

Generally speaking, the court’s primary consideration in any custody or visitation issue is the best interests of the child. That will always take precedence over the rights of either of the parents. Additionally, the court will consider other aspects as well, such as which of the parents is the primary one, the moral character of the parents, finances and the child’s preference as well as the age of the child.

Common Issues for Unmarried Parents Who Live Together but are Not Married

There are certain issues that are highly common for unmarried parents who live together but have not yet gotten married or who don’t plan on marrying. These are as follows:

• Proving paternity, usually through a birth certificate
• Choosing a name both parents can agree on
• Ensuring that the child can qualify for government benefits, insurance and more
• Child custody and visitation if the parents ever break up

If you are an unmarried parent who needs legal representation for a custody case, contact Kelly Krail and Thomas Bojko at Thomas & Krail LLC Attorneys at Law at your earliest convenience.

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