Whether you are married or not, if you and your significant other are splitting, and you have a child together, you first concern is probably how it will affect your child and whether your child will be subjected to the will of the court. The good news is, the court does not automatically take control of the situation. In most situations, parents have the opportunity to reach an agreement on their own.
When Parents Can Agree
When parents can come to an agreement on custody and visitation, on their own, they can create a parenting plan and submit it to the court for review and formalization. For some divorcing couples, child custody is the only thing they can agree on, and that’s fine. You can create your own parenting plan together even if the other terms of your marriage are to be decided by the court.
When Parents Cannot Agree
Couples who cannot reach an agreement on their own may still be able to reach an agreement out of court through negotiations facilitated by their attorneys or through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). These techniques may be used to work on multiple aspects of your divorce or just to decide child custody as a couple rather than putting your child’s fate in the court’s hands.
If no agreement can be reached, the court will decide for you.
Unwed parents can also reach an agreement on their own and submit it to the court for review and finalization or have the court decide for them if they cannot reach an agreement. The difference for unwed couples is that custody proceedings only come about if one parent petitions the court, because there is no divorce. An unwed mother automatically has sole custody of her child unless the father seeks a custody and visitation order.
To learn more about establishing child custody and visitation orders, please, contact an experienced family attorney right away.