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What You Need to Know About Raising a Child While Unmarried
Some unmarried parents think it is not necessary to establish paternity if the parents are living together. This is a mistake. In fact, when unmarried parents are on good terms, this is the best time to legally establish the child’s paternity.
- When the parents are married, the law automatically assumes that the married people are the child’s legal parents. If they are not married, the father must establish paternity. If he fails to do this, it can affect his rights in terms of visitation, custody and support. Additionally, the mother cannot receive child support from the father if she fails to establish paternity.
- There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical. Unmarried mothers will almost always receive primary physical custody of a newborn baby. However, unmarried fathers can and do receive joint legal custody of a newborn baby and visitation rights. Having joint legal custody means that the unmarried father will have an equal say regarding medical decisions, schooling, religion and extracurricular activities. Even if the mother receives sole legal custody and primary physical custody, a father still gets visitation, also called parenting time, with the child.
- Once you establish legal paternity, the mother cannot move away with the child over the father’s objection without leave of court. However, if you do not establish paternity, the mother can move away or deny visitation rights, regardless of the father’s objections. If you are an unmarried father and the mother plans to move with the child, see a paternity lawyer immediately. If a father does not act quickly and the mother moves, the father may have to establish paternity in the new state where the child resides.
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Of course, there are exceptions and further details about these laws that might apply to your family. To find out more about how the law affects you specifically, call our law firm and schedule a case review. There is no cost to meet with us.
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