December 11, 2019

How Does Custody Work with Unmarried Parents?

Unmarried parents and child custody in Minnesota | Segal Duffek Moen

Handling child custody matters is never easy as it is likely that hurt emotions are involved, and parents try to take good care of their child’s wellbeing. This already stressful process can be even more complicated when the parents who split up were never married.

What a Father or Mother Would Normally Expect During Custody Proceedings

The primary purpose of a child custody hearing is to make sure your child is cared for in the best way possible. This means guaranteeing the child’s needs:

  • Safety
  • High-quality education
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Financial care
  • Health
  • Physical needs

When parents are married, the court looks at the home, circumstances, and lifestyle of both the mother and father to decide which location is better for the child. When both parents are loving providers, judges may decide on shared custody or arrange visitation agreements.

How the Law Views Child Custody With Unmarried Parents

If parents are not married when a baby is born, the law grants full physical and legal custody of the child to the mother. She has the authority to make decisions regarding medical treatment, moving to a different state, or enrolling the child in a school of her choosing. An unmarried father has no legal right to visitation or custody unless a court order grants him this authority. In fact, a man who is not legally recognized as the father cannot even request a court to give him these rights.

Doesn’t having the father’s name on the baby’s birth certificate prove that he’s the child’s father? Not in the eyes of Minnesota law. A birth certificate on its own doesn’t establish paternity. In Minnesota, both parents need to sign a Recognition of Parentage form to declare paternity of a child.

How Establishing Paternity Affects Children and Custody Proceedings

Once a man is legally established as a child’s father, he then obtains several benefits and responsibilities. He can now request custody and visitation, and may also have to contribute financially towards child support. This is a big decision for child custody hearings, whether you’re the child’s father or mother.

Here are several other important factors to consider:

  • The financial benefits of child support
  • The need to protect your son or daughter from dangerous influences or surroundings
  • The child’s emotional wellbeing and needs

Fathers may go to court to request a paternity test to be legally recognized as the child’s father. Mothers may ask judges to issue a court order to require fathers to submit to a paternity test if they are unwilling.

The Importance of Working With a Child Custody Lawyer

For loving fathers, establishing paternity and securing a court order for custody or visitation rights are important steps towards protecting the precious relationship they have with their son or daughter. For caring mothers, deciding whether or not to initiate paternity proceedings is a serious matter with long-reaching effects for her and her children.

There is no single right-and-wrong solution. Each custody case is unique, and making sure children receive the love, care, and economic support they deserve means knowing how to protect your rights legally. Fortunately, you don’t need to make any of these decisions alone.

If the process makes you feel overwhelmed, or you are not sure what the next step you should take is, contact a child custody attorney. You can ask all the questions you want and receive legal guidance to secure the outcome you know is best.

Approach Child Custody Fully Prepared and Equipped To Win

There is nothing more important to you in the world than your children. Guarantee their future by working with knowledgeable child custody lawyers in MN. At the Law Offices of Segal Duffek Moen, you receive the expertise and care of an attorney with over 11 years of experience in child custody proceedings and cases for the establishment of parentage.

Contact the Law Offices of Segal Duffek Moen right away for assistance. Find clear answers to your questions and approach child custody with the best legal strategy.