Which Parent Has Custody of the Child if The Parents Are Not Married?
I frequently have single fathers come into my office, very exasperated and feeling helpless because the mother of their child is refusing to give them visitation or any contact with their children or their child. There seems to be a misconception that exists that if a father is unmarried, he does not have rights to his children. This is absolutely false.
Fathers and mothers both are presumed to have the same rights to their children. Nevada law actually has a preference for joint custody and family courts begin each child custody case with a presumption that custody should be equally shared by both parents. The judges recognize that even unmarried fathers have the same rights to the children as the mothers do.
However, the difference is that for an unmarried father to protect and enforce his custody rights, it is best for him to file a custody order with the court immediately after separating from the mother. In getting a custody order an unmarried father can protect his right to custody of the children. The custody order will provide a set visitation schedule that must be followed and enforced by both the mother and the father and it prevents the father from being denied the right to the children. It’s important to note, that without a custody order, the mother has no obligation to allow visitation to the father. Additionally, filing for a custody order will also show the court in the event of a custody battle that 1.) You did not abandon the children and 2.) You had interest in being an active father in the children’s lives.
Remember, that when making a decision as to custody, the judges look to what is in the best interest of the children and it is a presumption that the best interest of the children is to have a relationship with both of the parents.
So it’s important for unmarried fathers to remember, and to understand, that they have the same rights to their children as the mother does. But, in order to exercise those rights, in order to have those rights enforced, a custody order must be put in place.
All child custody cases are different and can involve many factors. If you’d like to discuss your specific situation in detail, please do not hesitate to contact us and sit down with our experienced family law attorneys. To schedule a meeting, give us a call at (702) 998-1188, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a consultation online.