Child Custody for Unmarried Parents: What You Should Know

In a divorce, the decision of who gets child custody will often me the most contentious part of the entire process. Each parent tends to want to be the one who gets one-parent physical custody and sole legal custody, as they instinctively feel like they know what is best for their children. As much trouble as that typical situation may be, the problems will only be ballooned if two parents are fighting for child custody and they never got married.

The court has the duty to assign parenting rights to the parent most fit to raise and live with their child. This can appear unclear to the court if there was never a marriage and no clear obligations or contributions to the marriage from either party. If you are in such a situation, you should expect to need to pass a higher threshold of “evidence” requested by the court that shows you are a good parent.

Start considering now what you can bring to court or to your argument to show you are fit to be a parent after divorce, like:

  • Financial records showing your stability.
  • Statements from friends, family members, and neighbors about your positive relationship with your child.
  • Medical records that show you are in good health.
  • Criminal records showing you do not have any questionable or recent run-ins with the law.

Unmarried parents—or fathers, rather—who are fighting for child custody also face one more unusual concern: paternity. In some situations, a birth certificate may not automatically include mention of the father if the child’s mother was not married at the time of birth. This can raise a serious question of paternity in a child custody dispute later. Fathers who cannot show paternity solidly, such as by using genetic testing, may be easily brushed aside in family law court.

Rhode Island’s Top Team of Family Law Attorneys

Are you staring at a child custody dispute on the horizon with your partner, whom you never married? Let Inman & Tourgee and our Rhode Island child custody lawyers be your legal guides and act on your behalf, in and out of court. We have more than 125 years of collective legal experience under our belts, making us the go-to law firm for people all throughout your community.

Find out about our services and how we can help you protect your right to parentage in your child custody case by dialing (401) 229-5521 and requesting a consultation.

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