Not married? Family law is much more than just divorce. This may come as a surprise, but around 1/3 of our clients are unmarried parents. One question we commonly answer is:
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS AS AN UNMARRIED PARENT?
The same laws that govern parenting plans, child support, visitation, and the rest apply whether the parents are married or not.
BUT, if fathers were not married to the mother of their child, THEY DO NOT HAVE legal rights as a parent until paternity is proven.
Generally speaking, a paternity affidavit is signed at the hospital when the child is born, but in any case where there was not done, you have to establish paternity before you have any rights.
When deciding on child custody, courts consider the same factors in cases where the parents are divorcing, dissolving a domestic partnership, or otherwise separating.
In the end, the best interests of the child take precedence over all other concerns.