Not all couples get married today and many have children without the legalities of marriage. That doesn’t mean that Colorado residents don’t have rights under the law when it comes to cohabitation and issues surrounding children, like child custody. When common law parents end their relationship, it may be more difficult for the father to gain custody or to have access to visitation, but it needn’t be this way. The first thing moving forward in these cases is to formally establish paternity of the child or children.
Getting custody rights
Once paternity has been established and the man is formally declared the biological parent, he has the same custody right as a divorced married would have if he had been raising the children in the same home with the children’s mother. When the couple separates, the man must petition the court to get custody rights. Most family court judges believe shared custody is best for children, but they will use a number of criteria to establish custody, one of which is what is deemed to be in the children’s best interests.
Work together if possible
Just like married couples, cohabiting parents need to work together to fashion a parenting plan that sets out who does what and when. Anything that is done amicably will reflect well in court. A judge is more likely to approve a plan when both parents have worked on it for the well-being of their kids.
Unwed fathers have rights when it comes to their children. Child custody issues may be a little more complicated in these cases, so fathers need to take the steps to make sure they are getting the parental rights to which they’re entitled. Getting advice from a lawyer experienced in family law may help to clear up those areas of child custody which may seem confusing.