Unmarried Partners: Custody

When an unmarried couple has a child, the parent-child relationship is established by the following means:

Mother-child relationship:

(a) the woman’s having given birth to the child, except as otherwise provided as part of a gestational agreement;

(b) an adjudication of the woman’s maternity;

(c) adoption of the child by the woman; or

(d) an adjudication confirming the woman as a parent of a child born to a gestational mother if the agreement was validated or is enforceable under other law.

Father-child relationship:

(a) an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity of the child.  For example, he and the mother of the child have married and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ended;

(b) an effective declaration of paternity by the man, unless the court rescinded the declaration or successfully challenged;

(c) an adjudication of the man’s paternity;

(d) adoption of the child by the man;

(e) the man having consented to assisted reproduction by a woman, which resulted in the birth of the child; or

(f) an adjudication confirming the man as a parent of a child born to a gestational mother if the agreement was validated or is enforceable under other law.

Without the establishment of the parent-child relationship, the duties and rights associated with that relationship do not exist. Examples include custody and visitation or child support. Once the parent-child relationship becomes established, the rules of custody and parent visitation apply no differently than if the couple had not yet divorced. The court uses the standard “best interest of the child” for determining custody. The factors the court considers are the needs of the child, the child’s bond with the parents, and the parenting skills of the parties.

Peter ChristensenUnmarried Partners: Custody