How do courts determine child custody for unmarried parents?

| Apr 3, 2020 | Child Custody And Support |

Ensuring that you have the appropriate share of time with your child is of utmost importance. Whether you are the biological mother, or a father worried about what rights you have as a parent, it is natural to be concerned about the future of your parenting time when there is no legally established family. But before any child custody steps can be taken, fatherhood must be acknowledged by the state and paternity established before the man can obtain parental rights.

In Missouri, both parents have the option to sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity once the child is born. This is one way the paternity establishment takes place. Otherwise, Missouri courts require that a man believing himself to be the father must file a Declaration of Paternity. Additionally, a man may also receive legal rights as a father via judgment by the court.

Once paternity is established…

As they would determine arrangements in the case of divorcing parents, Missouri family courts determine child custody arrangements based on the following factors:

  • Parents’ wishes for the child along with proposed parenting plans
  • Plans for relocation
  • State of well-being of all involved parties, including mental and physical well-being
  • Wishes of the child and how the parents will meet their emotional needs
  • Whether there is a history of neglect or abuse

These factors are what the court will use as they consider the child’s best interests for the present and future circumstances. If you are unsure whether you can obtain rights as a father, or you are a mother with legal concerns related to child custody, consider reaching out to an experienced family law attorney or otherwise qualified family court professional.