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Child Custody and the Separation of Unwed Parents

Posted by Gossman Law Firm, LLC || 20-Apr-2017

Birmingham Child Custody Lawyers

Since the separation of an unmarried couple is not legally considered to be a divorce, different rules apply. When unmarried couples who are raising a child (or children) together decide to separate, establishing child custody can be dicey and poses significant obstacles for unwed fathers seeking child custody.

Rights of Unmarried Fathers

When married couples split up, there is a legal assumption of paternity that is not afforded to unwed fathers. As such, full parental custody is typically awarded to the mother. Unless the father in question takes deliberate action to be awarded parental custody, he will not be granted child custody of any class. If an unmarried father wishes to pursue any form of child custody, he must first establish paternity. Without proof of paternity, an unmarried father doesn’t have a leg to stand on and cannot invoke any rights to visitation, shared custody, or participation in raising the child or making any decisions about a child’s wellbeing. Unmarried fathers seeking custody in Birmingham can establish paternity by doing any of the following:

  • Ensuring that their name is on the child’s birth certificate (This can only be done at the point of the child’s birth and may not be possible after all birth certificate forms are complete.)
  • Filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form in the state of Alabama
  • Petitioning the court to establish paternity
  • Taking a paternity test
  • Acknowledge paternity through the Alabama Putative Father Registry

If paternal grandparents are petitioning for child custody in the case of unmarried parents’ separation, paternity will still need to be established before further action can be taken. On the flip side, unmarried mothers will not be able to legally pursue any sort of child support or other assistance in raising the children in question until paternity has been proved. Therefore, for the benefit of all parties involved, including the child(ren), it may be best to pursue means of establishing paternity as soon as possible, in order to simplify the already-difficult and emotionally taxing process of separation.

Child custody is only one of several important issues that unmarried couples may face when separating after a significant amount of time together. However, child custody is perhaps the most serious. Don’t wait to call our Birmingham child custody attorneys at Gossman Law Firm, LLC and let us help you achieve the best possible outcome. Reach us at (205) 402-8808 or set up a free, confidential consultation now.

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