Do you have children with the person you’re separating from, but you were never married? You may want to establish custody legally, set up a court-ordered schedule, or obtain child support and other legal protections for your children.
Instead of a divorce, you will need to file a paternity action. It can be similar to a divorce but focuses only on custody-related issues. Many of these cases follow a similar structure.
The first question: Who are the parents?
A court can’t deal with things like custody and child support until it has determined who the legal parents are.
Usually, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward question and can be taken care of quickly. But if one person denies being a parent, then the two sides may have to go to court to figure it out. There are a few different ways to prove that someone is the other parent of your child.
After this has been established, more substantive issues can be dealt with.
The second question: Who gets custody and what’s the schedule?
Parents typically go to court because they want to be legally given either custody or the right to visitation. Without this, they might not have any set rules, guidelines, or boundaries that both parents must follow when parenting together.
When the parents can’t agree on when one spends time with the children, or what school they should attend, it can get complicated for the parents and confusing to the children.
The courts will look at what a child’s routine was before anything was filed, and use this as the starting point, or “status quo,” to determine custody and schedule. However, it is possible for the status quo to change.
In the end, the most important thing courts will look at is what is in the best interests of the child, not either of the parents.
Next, you can figure out child support
The law is very clear that both parents, regardless of marital status, are required to contribute financially to the care and upbringing of their children.
Courts will look to the schedule and the parents’ incomes to tackle the issue of child support. Paying child support can sometimes create conflict when parents are unaware of this and suddenly have to start paying a large sum.
The sooner you act, the better
If you want to be more involved in your child’s life or just want to get an established custody and visitation order, the sooner you act, the better. Call the Law Office of Benjamin Kanani now to discuss it with an attorney at no cost!