- by Mary Stearns-Montgomery
Many couples decide to live together and have a child without getting married. If the relationship doesn’t last do the same rules apply for unmarried couples with children as married couples? The answer is no. If a child is born out of wedlock child custody is handled differently than for couples that get divorced. Here are a few things for unmarried couples to keep in mind:
Spousal Support: Unmarried couples are not entitled to spousal support in the same way divorced parents are.
The mother of the child can have the father arrested for abandonment if he does not provide financial support for the child.
Mother’s Rights: If you decide to go your separate ways as unmarried parents the mother will automatically receive full physical child custody until you file a lawsuit to get the same rights.
Proving Paternity: If the father decides to contest child support he can ask to prove paternity.
Petition for Legitimation: If the father is looking to gain legal rights to the child and wants to have a relationship with the child he would file a petition for legitimation. This is done after you have proven paternity and allows you to exercise your rights as a father.
If you are an unmarried parent and need to establish a legal relationship with your child you should contact a family law attorney to discuss your rights and options.