Sam and Kathy are the unmarried parents of two young boys. When their relationship problems escalated to the point where they both wanted to separate, they needed to make some decisions about child custody. Unmarried parents essentially deal with the same child custody issues that divorced parents deal with. Here are some child custody guidelines to help unmarried parents like Sam and Kathy. read more
The first custody guideline that unmarried parents should consider is to make sure any decisions that are made are in the best interest of the child. This is the number rule behind all of the child custody laws and this is the standard that the courts will enforce. As hard as it may be, it’s crucial that the parents put aside their own feelings and biases in the situation to really think about what will benefit their children.
If unmarried parents can work together to come to an agreement they will be better off. Couples who can form a parenting plan with the mother and father both giving input are happier with the arrangements and more likely to follow them. This is better for the children because there will be more stability and consistency in their schedules. It is also better for the children not to have to witness an ugly custody battle.
In the above example, Sam has acknowledged that he is the father of the children. However, this isn’t always the case with unmarried parents. If an unmarried mother wants the involvement of the father and he doesn’t acknowledge his paternity, she can file a paternity suit against him. This means that the father will have to take a paternity test to see if he is the father. If the test is positive he then has the opportunity to acknowledge paternity. He is then responsible for child support and he also has the right to custody and visitation of his children. A mother should keep that in mind when she files a paternity suit.
Unmarried parents who can’t come to a custody agreement should attend mediation. Custody mediation can be very helpful for couples who need to work out a plan. If mediation doesn’t work and the mother and father still can’t agree, they will go to custody court. At the court, the mother and father will both present their custody agreement and explain why it is in the best interest of the child. The court will then make the decisions about the custody agreement.