Just because you and your partner never tied the knot, you might still need to deal with plenty of legal issues when you decide to part ways. Particularly when minor children are involved, parents should take care to attend to custody, visitation, and child support issues along with finding a new place to live. Read on to find out more.
Custody Rights of the Parties
In most cases, both parents will share legal custody of the child, meaning they both get to make important decisions about the overall way the child is raised and cared for. For example, both parents should have a say in disciplinary measures. Parents who agree on things can often make it easier if they agree on which parent will hold primary physical custody of the child as well. With shared custody, the parents can split up the time available in half with each parent getting about 50% of the child's free time. That may be more chaotic for a child that must move back and forth between two homes, but it has the advantage of providing almost equal amounts of time with each parent.
The other common custody split involves one parent taking primary physical custody of the child while the other parent sees the child according to a visitation schedule. However, the best interests of the child must be taken into consideration by the judge. If you cannot agree on physical custody, be ready to show very specific reasons why the other parent should not be a custodial parent and present proof of that allegation. Common issues with some parents that make them unfit to parent include mental or physical disabilities, substance abuse issues, child abuse, and more.
Visitation, Child Support, and Unmarried Parents
Once child custody is established, a visitation schedule is necessary for situations in which one parent has primary physical custody of the child. Any agreements should take both the parents' and the child's schedules into consideration.
Unmarried parents also need to deal with child support. In most cases, support is assigned to the parent that makes the most money and the amount is determined by the income of both parents. It's best not to agree to a child support order unless you are sure that you can abide by it until the child is an adult.
Once orders are in place, it's difficult to make changes when it involves a child. If you are unmarried, speak to a family law attorney about your rights when it comes to custody, visitation, and child support.
For more information, reach out to a company such as Sekella Law PLLC.