It’s not unusual for couples today to have children outside of marriage. If you live in Alabama, know that it’s important for unmarried parents to know their legal rights, as the state has custody laws that depend on the marital status of the parents. Unmarried parents generally have fewer rights than their married counterparts, and may, therefore, need the help of a Mobile Al family lawyer to defend their parental rights.
The unmarried mother’s right to custody
An unmarried mother has the natural or primary right to custody of children born outside marriage. This means that she has the legal right to keep her children and care for them, and her rights are superior over any other person, including the father. The only way these rights can be removed is if she is proven unfit for motherhood, or she abandons them.
The unmarried father’s right to custody
Generally speaking, the court views a married and unmarried father’s rights very differently. The father of a child born out of wedlock must take two legal actions to establish his rights. First, he needs to prove that he’s the biological father. Second, he needs to file a request with the court to grant him visitation rights or custody.
Numerous other issues may arise for an unmarried father. Even paternity can be questioned if he is not listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate. If you’re the father of a child whose mother you were never married to, it would be best to get a lawyer to help you reach an amicable agreement with her for you to be a regular part of your child’s life.
Factors that determine to whom the court will grant custody
The best interests of the child are the primary consideration of an Alabama court in any custody dispute. Some of the factors that the court will consider include the moral character of each parent, their financial status, and the child’s primary caregiver. If a child is old enough, his preference can also become a factor.
Contact an experienced law firm like Shane A. Taylor, P.C. for a consultation on your custody case. If other issues like child abuse and neglect are part of the problem, contact seasoned Mobile criminal lawyers for guidance on your case, especially when litigation is your last recourse.