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Ellen, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 36714
Experience:  25 years of experience helping people like you.
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If a couple has been together for seven years but never married,

Customer Question

If a couple has been together for seven years but never married, what are the legal rights for the father of the two children from this relationship? They have his last name and he has provided for them since their birth. Should he leave with or without the children?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Ellen replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your question. I am happy to assist you.

Absent the establishment of paternity, an unmarried father has no parental rights as he is not legally recognized as the father.

When a child's parents are unmarried the mother has sole custody unless the father takes some action to establish his paternity. If no paternity is established, the father has no rights to see the child.

Once paternity is established, both the father and the mother will have equal rights to custody of the child.

Therefore, the first thing that you must do is establish paternity. To do this you must file a paternity action unless paternity is acknowledged on the birth certificate.

If paternity has been established, absent a court order concerning the child, both the mother and the father have equal rights. Each parent, absent a custody order or court proceeding, has the right to relocate or travel with his child as he sees fit.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Paternity has been established on the birth certificate as he is listed as the father and both children have his last name. That is not the issue, but by leaving without the children, will he somehow diminish his chances of gaining shared custody or possible full custody if in the future there is a legal battle over the children?

Expert:  Ellen replied 6 years ago.
He made leave with or without the children. Neither choice would typically affect custody

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