Are you an unmarried parent worried about your custody rights?
Going through a custody battle?
Wondering if you have any custody rights at all?
Well, we’re here to help.
In this guide, we address the child custody rights of unmarried parents. Get answers to your most frequently asked questions.
Let’s get to it!
Not Married? Establish Parentage First!
In Nevada, the law assumes that when a couple is married at the time a baby is born, the husband is the father. Seems pretty simple right?
But what happens if a couple isn’t married at the time the child is born? Or what happens if the parents divorced before the child was born?
Before a father can have parental rights, the father must establish parentage or paternity.
Paternity can be established in one of two ways.
First, the father can sign a document known as an acknowledgment of paternity and have his name added to the child’s birth certificate as the father.
Keep in mind that this form needs to be completed by both parents, signed, notarized, and mailed to the Nevada Department of Vital Statistics.
The other way to establish paternity is to obtain a Court order declaring the father as a parent. This is usually done by filing a paternity case.
We won’t go into too much detail about paternity cases here since this guide is about the custody rights of unmarried parents.
For the purposes of this article, let’s just say that the first step to getting custody rights if you are not married is to establish parentage.
Custody and Visitation Rights Of Unmarried Parents
Nevada custody laws do not prefer a mother over a father.
Basically, both parents have equal rights to the child in custody court.
And . . . this is the same for married and unmarried parents.
So how does a judge determine who gets custody if parents aren’t married?
In every child custody case, the judge will consider the best interests of the child.
In Nevada, our laws say that when the parents come into court, married or unmarried, they start from a position of joint legal and joint physical custody.
The family court judge will then consider the best interest factors as follows:
- The parents’ ability to cooperate to meet the child’s needs
- Whether or not the child has half-siblings or step-siblings
- How well and bonded the child is to each parent
- What the child wants taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship with the child and the other parent
- Whether any parent has abducted the child
The key takeaway here is that the child’s best interests come first. Married or unmarried parents makes no difference.
Child Support For Unmarried Parents
The child support calculation is the same for married and unmarried parents.
The two things to consider for child support are the type of custody and the number of children.
When one parent has primary custody, the court uses the income of the non-custodial parent for child support.
When parents share joint custody, the final child support amount is based on both parents’ incomes.
Remember that Nevada child support laws changed on February 1, 2020.
Want more information about child support? Check out our Child Support Guide here.
How Do I Establish My Custody Rights If I’m Not Married?
Unmarried parents have rights and responsibilities the same as married parents.
However, since there is no marriage, establishing custody rights and enforcing custodial obligations can become more complicated.
Therefore, it’s necessary to take steps to protect your rights.
First, you need to file a complaint about custody, visitation, and support. If you haven’t already established paternity, you need to include a claim for paternity in your complaint.
Next, you will need to serve the other parent with the court action. Do this by hiring a process server or have a friend, or family member, give the papers to the other parent.
Then you will wait for a court date. At the court hearing, you explain to the judge your side of the story. Show the judge that it is in your child’s best interests for you to have custodial rights.
If your case is really ugly, consider hiring a lawyer.
What Happens If The Parents Are Still Living Together?
Even if you live with the other parents, you still have custody rights.
It is important to establish rights if you know your relationship is ending.
On the other hand, establishing rights early on is good insurance in the event of a break-up.
Where both parents are living together with the child, the Court is unlikely to take action.
In that case, we recommend having a lawyer draft a parenting plan that you can put in place once you are no longer residing under the same roof.
Don’t want to hire a lawyer? Find good parenting plans here, you can write up yourself.
Or . . . attend family mediation at the Family Court to have a mediator assist you in creating a parenting plan.
Do I Need A Lawyer For My Child Custody Case?
It’s not necessary to hire a lawyer for every custody case.
There are tons of good resources available on-line in cases where both parents agree on a plan.
However, if your case is ugly and crazy contested, it is best to hire an attorney.
Need help with a custody case? Call us today at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form.