Unmarried parents encounter many of the same legal issues as married parents where child custody is concerned. While custody laws vary by jurisdiction, a major consideration may be whether one is the father or mother of the child. Read on to learn more about child custody law in Cedar Rapids, IA, and how an attorney can help a parent get a fair deal in court.
Custody Rights of Mothers and Fathers
Unmarried mothers are assumed to have natural custody rights to children born of the relationship. Therefore, a mother has the legal right to control and care for the children, and her rights trump those of the father or anyone else. It doesn’t always work like this. A father can defeat these rights if he can prove a mother’s unfitness.
An unmarried father can move to get custody of the children. In most areas, if a man’s name is on the child’s birth certificate, he’s automatically recognized as the father, and he has the same standing in court as the mother has. The father’s rights are dependent on his fitness as a parent. Unwed fathers typically can’t win physical custody over a fit mother, but they can establish visitation and joint custody rights.
Factors Considered by Courts
The child’s interests are the main consideration in all custody matters, and they always prevail over either parent’s rights. Courts also evaluate other factors in custody cases, such as who is the primary caregiver, each parent’s moral character, their financial status and, in some cases, the child’s preferences.
Issues Encountered by Unmarried Parents
Some of the most common issues for cohabiting unmarried parents are:
• Documentation of paternity
• Choosing a name that is agreeable to both parents
• Ensuring the child’s eligibility for insurance and government benefits
• Visitation and custody in the event of a breakup
Unmarried parents should consult a family attorney for help with matters of paternity establishment, naming, benefit eligibility and custody.
Finding Legal Help
Child custody law in Cedar Rapids, IA is often emotional and complex. Jacobsen Johnson & Wiezorek, PLC can help a parent protect their rights in a child custody dispute. By working with an attorney, one has a greater chance of achieving an equitable outcome.