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3 unique challenges that unmarried parents face in custody cases

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Family Law

People often associate custody issues with divorce. When couples end marriages while their children are still young, they need to work out a way to share their parental responsibilities and rights. The same can be said of unmarried romantic partners of young kids who decide to go their separate ways.

Unmarried parenting arrangements are substantially more common now than they were just a few decades ago. There is now less risk and social stigma associated with having children together with an unmarried romantic partner than there was years ago. That being said, there are still unique issues that may arise when unmarried parents separate and need to adjust their parenting arrangements accordingly.

A lack of knowledge about personal rights

People going through a divorce often hire a lawyer and, therefore, have direct support as they learn about their rights and options given their circumstances. People breaking up frequently make the mistake of forgoing legal representation. They feel like it may not be necessary because the state never played a role in their relationship. This very passive approach to the process might mean that a parent fails to learn about their rights and responsibilities. People often make the wrong assumptions, such as a father assuming that he doesn’t have the right to visitation or shared custody if he chose not to marry the mother of his children.

The need to establish paternity

The right of a man to ask for time with his children and the ability of a woman to ask for child support depends on the state acknowledging him as the father. Therefore, custody issues related to unmarried couples can be a bit more challenging in some cases. A man may need to take steps to establish paternity, or the mother might have to ask the state to intervene and prove that he is the father of the child.

Fewer forms of financial support

When married couples divorce, child support is only one of several ways to ensure the children maintain the same standard of living. The courts also have the power to award alimony to a stay-at-home parent and to consider custody arrangements when dividing marital property. It can be more difficult for the parent assuming more responsibility for the children to maintain a comfortable standard of living after a breakup as opposed to a divorce that involves children.

Parents who understand that child custody issues may include surprisingly challenging factors if they have never married can better prepare to address family responsibilities. Learning more about Florida’s laws regarding parental rights and responsibilities may benefit those preparing for a breakup when they have children with their romantic partner.