How is Custody Determined in Cases of Unmarried Parents?

When most people think of child custody, they think of divorce. In the process of navigating a divorce, parents must reach an agreement on where their minor children will live, how the children will be financially supported, and how much time each parent will spend with the children.

Although custody disputes are understandably associated with the dissolution of marriages, custody of a child can be debated following the separation of an unmarried couple. Unmarried couples may not be legally bonded, but if they have a child together, legal processes may need to be involved following a breakup.

Custody cases involving unmarried couples proceed similarly to those involving married couples. The primary factor that influences custody decisions is whatever is in the best interest of the child. Various details are brought into consideration when determining what arrangement will best serve the child.

To determine which parent has primary custody, courts consider:

- Availability of financial support

- Time that can be spent with the child

- Living situations

- Co-parenting ability

- The child’s input, if they are old enough

Gaining Custody of a Partner’s Child

Another instance in which an unmarried couple may debate custody of a child is in cases of adopting a partner’s child from a previous relationship. This is possible, and common in family situations that are not considered “traditional.” There are many cases in which a parent’s partner is more present in a child’s life than their other birth parent, and therefore more suitable as a designated guardian. The legal proceedings in these situations would resemble an adoption more than a custody dispute.

It is not as common for a person to gain custody of their partner’s child in the event of separation — the birth parent will most likely have preference in such cases. However, the birth parent’s custody could be disputed if they are not considered as a suitable guardian, for various reasons. It is possible to create a case for adoption if the child’s birth parents and other family members are not fit to care for them.

Winner Law Group, LLC represents parents in all custody dispute cases. Whether you and your spouse are divorcing, you are unmarried and involved in a custody dispute, or are interested in adopting your partner’s child from a previous relationship, we can help.

To discuss your custody case with our attorneys, call (502) 812-1889 or complete our contact formto request a consultation.