When Unmarried Parents Break Up
Having children out of wedlock is very common in our society. When unmarried couples with children break up, they face the same issues of custody, support and visitation rights as married couples getting a divorce. In an ideal world, each parent puts the best interests of the child first and an amicable agreement is reached. In the real world, there are usually a few hiccups along the way.
In order to avoid being compelled to follow a judge’s custody order that may not be to anyone’s liking, you need an attorney. At the Law Office of Shelly Kay Flot, PC, we make sure that not only do the best interests of the child come first but that your interests as a parent are also taken into account. Our goal is to get both parents involved in the decision-making process and arrive at an amicable plan that works for everyone involved.
Establishing Child Custody
Child custody falls into two categories: legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody refers to living arrangements for the child; if you have physical custody, your child lives with you. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions affecting your child’s life such as educational choices, health care decisions and religion. The goal is usually to have both joint legal custody and joint physical custody, but sole custody is not uncommon.
When it comes to child custody, Wyoming law gives both parents equal rights. While legal custody is commonly split evenly between the parents, physical custody varies widely depending on the circumstances of each case. The custody agreement takes into account each partner’s ability to parent, the age of the children and each parent’s living arrangements among other things.
When Paternity Is In Question
If the man in the relationship is not legally acknowledged as the father, both parents can sign an “Acknowledgment of Paternity” form, establishing parental rights and responsibilities for the man and acknowledging that there is no other legal father. After 60 days, paternity can no longer be legally reversed without court action, even if a genetic test shows that the man named in the paternity form is not the real father.
In the absence of an acknowledgment form, paternity is typically determined through a court filing. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, a genetic test may or may not be required. Once paternity is established, the named father has a legal obligation to financially support the child. A judge then makes decisions concerning legal custody, visitation and child support at the paternity hearing.