Family Law and Unmarried Parents

Family Law covers a broad range of legal issues, most involving the couple's minor children. The tone and outcome of the legal matter involving your family can be greatly assisted by having the right family law attorney. Family law issues do not always involve a divorce, or marriage dissolution. What about in the case of where there was never a marriage to begin with? This is a more and more common occurrence; children have been born into a relationship which involved cohabitation, but is not secured with any legal agreement. In a case where there has never been cohabitation, the father's rights may be greatly diminished.


Generally speaking, the courts look at married and unmarried father's rights quite differently. With a divorce of a legally married couple, both are considered to have the right to be fully involved in their children's lives in areas such as deciding where they live, and how they will be raised. The noncustodial parent would have the right to know where their offspring are living, and to see them according to the visitation agreement. In addition, they would have the right to information regarding school and medical records.


If the parents were not married, but did live together in the family home, and then separate, it is generally the mother who has automatic parental responsibility. If you are a father in this situation, it means that you do not have the same rights as a married father, and it might be more difficult for you to establish child visitation. Numerous other issues may arise for an unmarried father, even basic paternity can be called into question if he is not listed as the father on the birth certificate.


If you are in a situation where you have a child but have never been married to the other parent, it will be most advantageous to you to hire a qualified family law lawyer to assist you in reaching a suitable agreement so that you can be a part of your child's life. You will need guidance to determine things such as who claims the child on their income taxes, to who provides health insurance and other benefits. Even if you are not separated, but are in a happy cohabitation relationship with a child, it is a good idea to contact an attorney who can draft a legal agreement, much like a prenuptial agreement, which covers finances and child issues.


Much like with a marriage, covering some of these issues ahead of time can make any future separation go more smoothly for the individuals concerned, most especially the children. Remember, the court will decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of the children. Take the time to make those decisions yourself by contacting an attorney who deals with family law court cases. Do what is in the best interests of the children, and you will all be better off.