Unmarried Parent Collecting Child Support

Many years ago, the majority of families with children were nuclear families that included both parents in the home. Over the years, the definition of a family, even with children, has continued to develop and be defined by different standards than the ones that existed in the past.

When Unmarried Parents Separate

Being in a common law relationship is similar to being married except that the laws designed to protect both individuals, such as divorce, do not apply to live-in relationships, even when there are children involved. This means that even when a man is listed as the father on the birth certificate, there is no presumption of paternity. Likewise, a mother who has provided care for a child since birth may suddenly find herself without any visitation rights after separating from her partner.

The Single Mother's Woes

Becoming an unmarried single mother is often the default for children who are in such a situation. Whether it is the woman’s choice to leave the relationship or she is left by a man who no longer wants to maintain the relationship, the result is the same; there is the matter of who will be the primary guardian of the child. Without a court order, there are many possible consequences such as:

  • Dealing with the stigma of applying for and receiving welfare services such as food stamps, public housing and medical coverage.
  • Being required to establish paternity and having no entitlement to collecting child support if there is no proof of biological parentage.
  • Lacking the right to obtain child support rights from a father who is not a biological parent, even if the father has been providing for the child.


The Single Father's Scenario

Too often the assumption is that the father is ready and willing to hand over custodial rights to the mother just because she is the mother. This is sometimes the furthest thing from the truth and the father will come out fighting for child custody. Within the live-in arrangement there may be verbal and written agreements regarding children that both parties have set their hand to. Unfortunately, these agreements are not a legal basis on which courts will make their decisions about who receives custody.

When unmarried parents separate without a court order in place, there are default decisions made with respect to the fathers rights child support obligation and other child support rules. Without the provisions of a child support hearing or court order, the legal system says:

  • The time shared between the father and child is to be set at zero percent. This is whether or not the father actually does spend time with the child.
  • Federal child support for zero percent time spent is automatically higher, often as much as $100 to $200 per month. Federal and state child support are different.
  • The father who avoids paying child support is subject to prosecution by the District Attorney.
  • At any time she elect, the mother can change any type of visitation agreement except those made by an official court order.

Contact a child support attorney in your area today!

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