Child custody arrangements have a complexity that only increases for unwed parents.
According to the CDC, unmarried women accounted for 23.2% of births in Colorado. Whether the mother or the father, knowing what lies ahead may help ease the process.
1. Establishing paternity
When a couple divorces, paternity usually does not create a big deal. An unmarried father has to prove paternity to the court if he did not sign the birth certificate. Failure to do so eliminates his rights for custody or visitation. To establish paternity, parents can voluntarily sign an acknowledgment of paternity form from the state or take a court-ordered paternity test.
2. Determining custody
After establishing paternity, the next step involves resolving any disputes to determine the child’s best interests. The court will base its decision on numerous factors. Depending on the situation, it may result in joint custody or full custody for one parent. The courts also decide on visitation rights for the parent that does not have custody.
3. Paying child support
Whether married or not, each parent must financially support the child. The parent who has a greater share of the responsibility will receive child support. The amount of support varies for every case. The courts will look at the finances of each parent to determine a fair and just amount.
Unmarried parents who have amicably split ways have the right to develop their own agreement to determine custody and visitation. They can work with a lawyer or mediator to ensure the legality of the agreement.