Whether married or not, couples with children who choose to separate will face many questions such as: where will the children live? How much time will the children spend with each parent? What financial responsibilities will each parent assume regarding the children?
We’ve all heard about child custody agreements as part of divorce cases, but how does it work for couples who were not married in the first place? Are you ending a non-marital relationship and wondering what legal protections you have as a parent? Child custody cases in Florida are handled differently depending on whether you are considered a legal parent of your children or not. The law offers legal parents similar protections and rights, whether they are married or unmarried. But the story is different in cases concerning non-legal parents.
How are Custody Cases Decided for Legal Parents?
In Florida, if both parents are legal parents – even if they are unmarried – their child custody case will be treated almost as if they were married. According to Nolo, legal parents are defined as either biological parents, parents through a joint adoption, or parents because the non-biological parent in the couple has been able to obtain a legally valid stepparent or second-parent adoption.
As in most states, judges in Florida hold to the Best Interests of the Child Standard when awarding child custody. A number of factors go into evaluating cases according to this standard, revolving around each parent’s stability, health, and criminal records, as well as the preferences of the children.
If you and your partner are both legal parents but not married and are going through a separation, it’s most likely that the courts will want to award joint custody – assuming that both parents are deemed as able to provide a stable, healthy and safe environment for their children. As a legal parent dissolving a non-marital relationship, you have almost identical custody rights as a legal parent ending a marriage.
How are Custody Cases Decided for Non-Legal Parents?
If one parent in a couple is not a legal parent (for example, if your partner had a child with a different parent before your current relationship, and you never legally adopted the child), the case is treated much differently. According to FreeAdvice Family Law, custody is very rarely awarded to the non-legal parent in the relationship, although it is possible. Judges tend to favor the legal parent when awarding child custody.
How Can We Help?
Are you going through a separation as an unmarried couple in the Naples, Florida area? Are you wondering how the law protects your rights as a parent who wants custody of your child? Are you a non-legal parent afraid of losing your custody battle? Don’t wait to get help from a family lawyer who is highly experienced in cases like yours, and also highly concerned with the wellbeing of you and your family. Michael M. Raheb, P.A. is here to represent you and protect your rights! Set up your free 30-minute phone consultation by sending us a message online or calling 239-226-0888.
The Law Offices of
Michael M. Raheb, P.A.
2423 First Street,
Fort Myers FL 33901
Fax Number: 866-949-0888