Which Parent Has Custody of the Child if There is No Court Order in Place?
The answer to this question simply depends on whether the parents are married or not.
- If the parents are married, then the parents have equal rights to custody until a court order is put in place.
- If the parents are not married, then the mother has custody of the child until a court order is put in place.
When a couple is not married, there is no legal presumption of paternity. This means that an unmarried father is not automatically assumed to be the biological father of a child. If the father wishes to have custody, he must first establish paternity. A father can do this in two ways: voluntarily or involuntarily.
- Voluntarily: If the parents agree that the father is the biological father, then they can come to an agreement just by simply filing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. It’s just a simple form that you fill out stating that “yes, this is the biological father of the child,” and that should be sufficient.
- Involuntary: On the other hand if the mother is not agreeing that the father is the biological father, then the father must conduct a genetic test to establish paternity.
Once the paternity has been established, then the father can put his name on the child’s birth certificate and, in turn, can petition the court for a custody order.
It’s important to note, though, that just because the parents are not married does not mean, specifically for the father, that he doesn’t have rights to the child. The father has the same rights as the mother does, it just takes a couple of more steps for him to establish that right, if the parents are not married. Fathers should not let the fact that you are not married make you believe that you do not have the same rights to your child as the mother does.
If you have questions about this topic or any other topic in family law, our experienced Family Law attorneys can help you. Set up an appointment to sit down and discuss your particular situation. Our office can be reached at (702) 998-1188, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by scheduling a consultation online.