What Rights Do I Have If I’m Never Married To My Child’s Mother?

What Rights Do I Have If I’m Never Married To My Child’s Mother?

In November of 2011 Brian and his girlfriend Jennifer decided to separate after living together for more than nine years. Both agreed they no longer felt the same about each other and needed to end their relationship. Brian and Jennifer had two kids together during their relationship. The boys were both still very young, 4 and 7. They each wondered where the boys would end up. Brian desperately wanted custody of his two boys, but decided to try and represent himself in the custody hearings. Jennifer was awarded custody of the children.

What Brian Didn’t Know

When a couple with children have remained unmarried and they decide to separate, the unmarried mother is presumed to have the primary or natural right of custody. Therefore, she has the legal right to care and control of the child and her rights are greater than those of the father or any other person. These rights can be taken away if it can be proven that the mother is unfit or has abandoned the child.

On the other hand, unmarried fathers can take action to be awarded custody of a child. In most states, if the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate, he will be recognized as the child’s legal father and have an equal amount of hold in court as the mother. Otherwise, a father’s rights depend on whether or not he is suitable to have custody. An unwed father cannot win primary physical custody over a mother who is a good parent, but may be able to establish some custody or visitation rights.

As A Father What Can I Do?

The best interests is of the child are the primary focus in any custody battle and will prevail over the rights of either parent. A court will also consider many other factors in awarding custody, including who is the primary caregiver of the child, the moral character of the parents, the financial status of each parent, and, if they are old enough, the child’s preference.

If you feel your rights as a father are being marginalized, contact an experienced Indiana family law attorney today. Our team is prepared to fight for your right to remain a vital part of your children’s lives. Contact us at 812-945-3055.

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