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Determining custody of children with unwed parents

86195193_S.jpgThere has been an increase in children born to unmarried individuals. This increase is seen across the country, including in Illinois. In the United States, it is estimated that 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents. This is an 18 percent increase from 2007.

The legal system in the United States is based on the idea that a baby's parents are married to each other. One could ask what happens if the biological father does not want to be included in the child's life and is not listed on the birth certificate. Is it automatically assumed that the mother has sole custody of the child, or does the mother have to file for custody? This can be a sticky situation because some mothers may be concerned that if they do not file for child custody, an absentee father may reappear in the future and demand joint custody or demand regular visitation.

Circumstances vary from state to state. In some states, the mother is seen as only having initial custody. If the father did not sign the birth certificate, the mother is not automatically given sole custody. It is also important to note that in some states, an unwed couple will need a paternity test to establish paternity before the father's name is placed on the birth certificate.

In another states, the presumption is that the mother has sole custody if no father is put on the birth certificate at the time of birth. However, if the father reappears in the future and wants to file for custody or visitation, a judge can issue an order allowing the father to fight for equal custody.

A family law attorney may be able to help a client who has questions about child custody. An attorney may help their client attempt to prove to the courts that the parent is able to provide care that is in the best interests of their children.

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