If you are getting divorced, please see our divorce page. If you and the other parent are not married, you need to establish and protect your rights to your child with a court order. This is true for both the mother and the father. The court order clarifies:
- The parental rights each parent has
- The time each parent gets to spend with the child
- How much child support should be
- Who will provide the child with health insurance
The law suit that produces this order is known as a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship, or SAPCR.
Without a court order, police will likely not help if the other parent takes the child. First, you must establish and protect your rights to your child.
If both parents are on the birth certificate, then the hospital probably had them sign an acknowledgement of paternity at the birth. If so, that creates a dangerous situation if the relationship between the parents ends. Both parents have equal rights to the child. Those equal rights continue after you stop living together.
If the child lives with you, then you might worry that the other parent will simply take your child. What if the other parent suddenly shows up at school or day care and whisks your child away? If this happens, the police will not consider it kidnapping. More likely, they will consider it a civil dispute between two parents. At this point, a costly, drawn-out legal battle may be the only way to get your child back. Also, without a court order, there is no legal requirement that the other parent help with any of the costs of raising a child.
Without a court order, the other parent may never let you see your child at all. In order to spend time with your child, you need to establish and protect your rights to your child.
Being on the birth certificate does not guarantee you access to your child. There is no court order that says the other parent has to let you see your child at all. As a parent, you have more rights to the child than any one besides the other parent. However, grabbing your child from a caretaker can traumatize your child.
You may be tempted to grab your child and run. Don’t do this. Even if you are not in legal trouble, you are traumatizing your child. Go through the court system to establish and protect your rights to your child.
If you grab your child and run, then the other parent is likely to file a law suit. The court might consider your taking the child as evidence that you do not have the child’s best interest in mind. You might also find that the other parent only leaves the child with people who will not allow you to see the child.
If both parents did not sign an acknowledgement of paternity at the time of the birth, a father may discover that he has no legal relationship with his child at all.
If you and the mother have not signed an acknowledgment of paternity, you may not have any legal relationship to your child at all. Most importantly, you must establish and protect your rights to your child through the court system.
The Bolton Law Firm can help you establish and protect your rights to your child.
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