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What are the Legal Rights of Unmarried Parents When It Comes to Child Custody?

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Family Law |

Understanding the legal rights of unmarried parents in relation to child custody is pivotal for ensuring the best interests of the child. The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins, with our extensive experience in this area, is here to help you navigate through the legal procedures involved in child custody cases.

Understanding Key Terms

It is essential to understand the key terms. ‘Legal custody’ is the right to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing, such as education and healthcare, whereas ‘physical custody’ pertains to where the child lives. ‘Joint custody’ implies that both parents share these responsibilities, while ‘sole custody’ suggests one parent has exclusive rights.

Custody in Michigan

In Michigan, an unmarried mother is presumed to have sole legal and physical custody unless the child’s father is legally recognized by the courts. This recognition can be established through signing an Affidavit of Parentage or petitioning the courts for a paternity test. An unmarried father can gain custody if he proves his paternity and demonstrates his ability to care for the child.

Factors in Determining Child Custody

The determination of child custody involves several factors, including the relationship between the child and each parent, the ability of the parent to provide care, the stability of the home, and any history of domestic violence or abuse. These elements are considered to ensure the child’s best interests are met. Additionally, the child’s own wishes may be taken into account if they are of a suitable age and maturity to express them.

Rights and Responsibilities

Unmarried parents have certain rights and responsibilities regarding their children. These include the right to spend time with their child, make decisions about their upbringing, access to information about their child’s education and healthcare, and provide financial support. They also have the responsibility to act in the best interests of their child and promote a positive relationship with the other parent.


In cases where both parents are awarded joint custody, co-parenting is essential for maintaining stability and consistency in the child’s life. This involves effective communication, respect for each other’s parenting styles, and prioritizing the child’s needs above any personal disputes. A family law attorney can provide guidance and support in establishing a successful co-parenting relationship.

Helpful Tips for Navigating Custody Disputes

Navigating custody disputes can be challenging. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Amicable Resolution: Try to resolve issues outside of court. Mediation can be a helpful tool for reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
  2. Legal Assistance: Engaging an experienced attorney like those at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins can provide invaluable guidance and representation.
  3. Developing a Strong Case: Gather evidence demonstrating your ability to provide a stable environment for your child. This could include proof of financial stability, testimonials from character witnesses, or evidence of the child’s preference if they are old enough to express one.

Tailored Legal Advice

It is crucial to remember that every case is unique, and legal advice should be tailored to your specific circumstances. The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and guide you through this complex process.

Assistance from the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins

The journey through child custody disputes can be emotionally taxing and legally challenging. You don’t have to navigate this path alone. With our wealth of experience and commitment to personal attention, the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins stands ready to assist. We invite you to contact us for a consultation if you require assistance with a child custody issue. Let us help you secure the best possible outcome for you and your child.