When you have children, and your relationship with the other parent ends, you face many concerns. If you are unmarried, you may wonder about your rights regarding child custody.
Although many laws make a connection between parenting and marriage, North Carolina does not base parental rights on your marital status. The state focuses on the biological and legal relationships between parents and children.
The state recognizes the mother as the legal parent at birth. However, to gain legal custody, the father must establish paternity. If the parents agree that the father is biologically related, they can sign an affidavit of parentage to establish parental rights. If both parents do not agree, a judge can determine paternity with a DNA test.
Creating a child custody arrangement
After establishing parentage, unmarried parents can agree to a custody and visitation arrangement or petition the court for assistance. The courts aim to give children the opportunity to build a strong relationship with each parent. The laws base custody decisions on the best interests of the children. Both parents have equal rights to seek joint or full custody.
Determining child support
A parent with primary custody can ask for child support from the non-custodial parent. Both married and unmarried parents have this right under the law. North Carolina has strict guidelines to determine support amounts.
Many people assume they do not have the same parental rights as married couples during a split. However, custody laws protect the rights of all parents regardless of marital status.