Custody Laws in New Hampshire

Who gets custody of the child if the parents aren’t married?

In the United States, up to 40% of children are born outside of marriage, and the number is growing. Even while there are many similarities to custody issues between married parents, unmarried parent create some unique issues  in custody proceedings. You should visit a divorce lawyer if you are an unmarried parent who has just divorced the other parent. 

Rights of the Mother 

If the parents aren’t married, the mother is granted automatic custody rights in most states. This rule usually applies if the mother and father were never married, the woman was not married to anyone else at the time of the kid’s birth, and the child has no existing custody or visitation order.

If the father is not on the birth certificate, until he establishes paternity, the mother will  have the sole the authority to decide who sees the child and to what extent, limit visitation with others, enroll the child in school, apply for public benefits on behalf of the child, and make critical choices concerning the child.

The Rights of the Father

If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, his parental rights will be given equal weight in court as the mother’s. If the father’s name isn’t on the birth certificate, he must first prove paternity before claiming parental rights. A New Hampshire family division has the authority to make a judicial finding of paternity, which then causes the father’s name to be added to the birth certificate. This finding is usually based on a court-ordered or voluntary paternity test. If a father can establish paternity, he is then entitled to parenting rights based on the the best interests of the child.

In an ideal case, a father who wants to be involved in his child’s life can negotiate on shared custody or visitation with the mother. However, in many circumstances, this is a difficult task.

Historically, as long as the mother was considered a fit  parent, single fathers are rarely given primary physical custody of their children. However, by establishing his parental rights, fathers could establish a legally enforceable shared custody or visitation schedule. In recent years, the historic assumption that a mother was more likely to have primary physical custody, has wanted. Under the law, both parents are assumed to be equally entitled to parenting time, regardless of gender.

Parents who live together but are divorcing require a custody agreement.

The difficulties are similar to those faced by a couple who has lived together, had a child, and subsequently divorced. If the father’s name is mentioned on the birth certificate, he has legal standing. Regarding parenting rights, the father’s name on the birth certificate would likely place him on the same footing as any other married father.

The hope is that any disagreements may be resolved between the parties and they can agree on the father’s position moving forward. Custody, support, and parenting time are usually the same issues to resolve.

Like with a divorce agreement, the best thing for the parents to do is to create their own parenting plan, which they both agree on. This would honor each parent’s right to see their children and participate in child-rearing decisions. The presumption in any divorce case is thatt he parents will share decision-making and residential responsibility.  

If paternity is proven, the father has the same rights as any other parent when it comes to seeing his child. The father would like to collaborate with a divorce attorney to draft a proposed order in the family division protecting his rights.

Depending on the child’s age, there may be some unique issues.

Unmarried parents who separate often have shorter relationships than those who were married, although this isn’t always the case. The kid who is the subject of the custody and parenting time arrangement may be quite young in some cases. When an unmarried father tries to spend time with his infant kid, he faces unique custody and parenting time challenges. While there is nothing in the law that states mother’s are more likely to be awarded primary custody over an infant, as a practical mater this is often the case for women who are nursing their infant.

This means that until the infant is a little older, an unmarried father may not have overnight parenting time with his child. The child will have to adjust to the parenting routine gradually. To put it another way, the father may not expect the same amount of time with his children at first as he will in the future. The emphasis would be on spending quality time with the baby rather than on the number of overnights. Depending on the conditions and circumstances of each situation, frequent contact may be more vital than overnights at this stage. Again, this is not written into the law and is not an iron-clad rule. It is simply a common ruling by courts when it comes to infants.

When unmarried parents separate, they can seek legal assistance to defend their rights and seek the best outcome for their children. You can engage an attorney to assist you in negotiating a custody and parenting time schedule. 

Get in touch with our NH family law attorneys to learn more about how we can help you navigate the complexities of co-parenting when you’re unmarried. Contact our child custody attorneys Today!

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