Thank you so much for understanding, Flora, I appreciate it. I can Answer your new questions here, and you can rate my service here without a problem, Okay ?
1. " If his father intends to file the Petition for Custody, will it be easy for him to win under my case as an unmarked mom? And under what circumstances will the Court grant him the custody right? "
Before the new laws were enacted, the Family Court Judges followed the "Tender years Doctrine". This legal principle was applied in custody cases where the children were very young and the Courts felt that young children of "tender years" should not be separated from their mother. This resulted in the Judges almost always and almost automatically awarded custody of very young children to the mother. I am a mother of two girls and I agree completely with this Doctrine. However, nobody asked my opinion when the Legislatures of each State slowly amended their laws to give fathers an equal right to custody. The changes in the law actually came about because of the Women's movement for equal rights. So, as women gained equal rights with men, those men who were involved in custody fights began screaming for equal rights as fathers. The men screamed so loud that today, the husband in divorce proceedings has the same right to demand alimony if the wife is earning more income. These cases went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court which held that husbands were being discriminated against because of their gender and they had an equal right to demand alimony.
Today if the parents of children are married and they get a divorce, both parents have an equal right to custody. They do not have to prove paternity because there is a legal presumption that a child born during the marriage is the child of both the mother and her husband and if the mother had an affair during the marriage, her husband would have to file a Petition to disprove paternity in order to be free of the obligation to pay child support for a child to whom he was not the biological father.
In the case of unmarried parents of a child, the mother is presumed to have sole custody of the child (or children) until the biological father establishes that he is the father. Once the biological father establishes paternity, whether by signing a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, or by filing a Petition to Establish Paternity through DNA testing, he then has an equal right to custody.
However, having an "equal right to custody" does not mean that the Court will award 50-50 custody. The same rule is true even where the parents were married and even though the married parents who are divorcing have an equal right to custody does not mean that the result of custody proceedings will be an award of equal custody. The Family Court Judges are still guided by the same principle in custody decisions - The award of custody is based on what will be "In the best interests of the child". Studies have shown that children feel more loved and will grow up to be more stable and confident adults, if they have an established relationship with both parents. A Judge is more likely to award custody to the parent who encourages a relationship between the child and the other parent, rather than to the parent who speaks against the other parent and tries to maintain a distance between the child and the other parent.
In Answer to your question, even though the father might want to establish paternity so that he can have some rights to your children, I do not believe for a minute that he would be awarded custody, or even shared, equal (50-50) custody because a Judge must still decide the question of "What will be in the best interests of the child, or children, and in doing so, he must take into account the factors which I listed in one of my Answers at the very beginning. I will list them here again so that you do not have to search for them. I had stated the following which I am re-printing below. I do not nbelieve there are any conditions under which the father would be awarded even shared, equal custody, so I do not believe that is something that you should be worried about at all.: Here is what I had stated:
"These factors include, but are not limited to, taking into consideration: :
1. Which parent will provide the more stable, secure, and loving home;
2. Which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child;
3. Has the parent who is seeking custody played a major role in the child's life;
4. Which parent will spend more time with the child;
5. Has either parent ever been in jail;
6. Has either parent ever been involved in illegal drugs;
7. Which parent will be a better role model;
8. Maintaining the child's ties with friends, school, and the community - Family court Judges are very reluctant to uproot a child from his familiar surroundings;
9. Does either parent have a history of violence, etc. "
You also asked,
2. "You mentioned that unmarried mom like me have sole custody right over my children, unless his father files the Petition for Custody and win. ...So, for married couples, can I say that both of the couple is having the joint custody rights in 50:50? Am I right? "
An unmarried father who has established paternity, will have an equal right to custody as the mother, in the same way that a father who is married to the mother has an equal right to custody. The only difference is that he does not have to establish paternity if the child was born during the marriage. But, please keep in mind what I said before, just because a father has an equal right to custody, does not mean that he will be awarded 50-50, shared, equal custody. In most cases when the Family Court Judge considers all the factors, he finds that the best interests of the child (or children) will be served by awarding primary physical custody to the mother because she has been the primary caretaker of the children, and the Judges are very reluctant to uproot the child from his mother, his home, his familiar surroundings, his friends, his classmates, his community, and everything else familiar to the child just to give the other parent equal custody as the mother has. Family Court Judges more often award primary physical custody of the children to the mother, and award partial physical custody to the father which can be two weekends out of the month, or every weekend. Holidays are alternated each year. For example, if the mother has the children for Christmas this year, the father will have the children for Christmas next year.
Judges will usually award both parents equal legal custody. "Legal" custody is the right of a parent to participate in making important decisions in the lives of the children, such as education, choosing schools, religion, participating in making decisions on major medical issues (except, of course, in emergency situations where the primary custodial parent can make a decision in an emergency situation, rather than have to wait until she finds the father).
Flora, if you are planning to take the children out of the United States and to live in another country, you should do it now because if the father wants to fight you on the custody issue, even if the Court awards him visitation every other weekend, he will be able to Petition the Family Court and ask the Judge to issue an Injunction against you and prohibit you from taking the children to live outside the United States by telling the Court that if you are permitted to take the children outside the United States, he will not be able to exercise his visitation rights. You have not said whether or not he wants visitation rights, but I thought it was important that I tell you that he might be able to prevent you from leaving the United States with the children,
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