While taking decision regarding the custody of a child, the court focuses on the minor’s best interests. This fact does not change regardless of whether the parents are married or unmarried. To determine what is best for a child belonging to unmarried parents, the court considers a number of points, which are discussed below.
Custody for an unmarried mother
The first thing that the mother of the child needs to do is establish paternity. It is important to identify the biological father of the child so as to avail any benefits. Even if the father is already participating in raising the child, he may opt out at a later stage. Therefore, establishing paternity is important for both the mother and the father.
An unmarried mother may need financial support to raise the child. If the paternity is established, the mother can battle for financial support for the benefit of the child. Sometimes an unmarried father might offer his support to the mother and the child voluntarily. This would make everything easier. In case the father dies, the mother would be able to avail benefits only if she has established paternity.
Normally the court gives the custody of a child to the unmarried mother and it is the father who has to battle for custody. If both the mother and the biological father decide that the kid should be raised by the mother and that participating or not participating in the raising the child is at the discretion of the father, the court grants the custody to the mother.
Custody for an unmarried father
If an unmarried father is denied of the duties of raising his kid by the mother, the father can take the case to the court and battle for the custody. A father can win the custody easily, if the court declares the mother unfit and incapable of raising the kid by herself. Like mentioned before, paternity has to be established before the father can go ahead.
The first thing a father should do when he learns about his kid is to talk to the mother. He should offer her support in terms of time and money to look after the kid. It is always better to have these kind of out of court settlements. But even after many attempts at persuasion, if the mother denies his offer, he may go and fight for the custody in court.
Often if the father is very keen to look after the child, the court grants a joint custody of the kid to both the parents so that both can be equally engaged in raising the kid. But if the father is declared unfit by the court of law, then the full custody of the child would be given to the mother alone.
Whatever the decision of the court, the parents need to understand that it is all for the benefit of the kid.
This post was submitted by Penny Cooper, an expert associated with Toronto Divorce Lawyers and Family Lawyers and Family Lawyers.