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The Basics of Child Custody When You Weren’t Married

Child custody spelled out in blocks with a gavelChild custody cases in Maryland can be complex, and things can become even more complicated when the two parents of the children involved were not legally married. It’s critical to partner with an experienced child custody attorney early on in the process to fully take advantage of the rights and privileges that the law affords you.

What Happens When Unmarried Parents Need Custody Help from the Court?

In Maryland, the laws for unmarried parents are very similar to the laws that govern married parents who are separating, but unmarried couples must first establish paternity of the children. Paternity can be established in Maryland by:

  • Signing the Affidavit of Parentage at the hospital after the baby is born to have the father’s name placed on the birth certificate

  • Signing the Affidavit of Parentage after going home from the hospital in the presence of a notary public and mailing it to the Maryland Division of Vital Records (up to the child’s 18th birthday)

  • Completing a genetic test

  • The father declaring himself orally and in writing the father of the child without objection from the mother

It’s important to note that, if the couple was unmarried but the mother was married to someone else at the time of conception or birth, an Affidavit of Parentage cannot be executed. These should only be used when there is one possible father.

Who Gets Child Custody When Parents Are Unmarried?

Maryland does not favor one parent over another, and both the mother and the father are considered to have equal rights to the child in the absence of evidence that one parent should be given full custody. The state examines what is in the best interest of the child, so factors like a history of abuse, the distance between homes, financial stability, mental fitness and more might be considered. In the majority of cases, the court decides that shared child custody is the best for the child. However, it is impossible to know what the outcome will be, particularly when the other parent also has an attorney. Start working with a skilled attorney early on to ensure you get the child custody you deserve.

Get Help for Your Child Custody Case in Maryland with Lebovitz Law

Whether you are searching for an experienced lawyer to assist with your landlord-tenant law case or the right place to assist with your unmarried parents child custody case, Lebovitz Law can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.