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Unmarried couples and child custody rights

19263047_S.jpgA parent in Missouri or anywhere else in America has the right to seek child custody or visitation rights. This is true whether the child's parents were married at the time of birth. The law generally believes that a child benefits most when both parents are in their life unless there is evidence that proves otherwise in a given case.

For fathers, the first step in the process is to establish paternity of a child. This may be done simply by filling out a form either before or after the child is born. However, it may be necessary to have a DNA test done in the event that paternity is disputed. If paternity is established, child custody or visitation agreements may be negotiated by the parents themselves. This is generally referred to as a parenting plan.

If the parents cannot agree on child custody or visitation by themselves, it may be possible to ask a judge to make a ruling. Such a ruling will be made with the best interests of the child being the top priority. In the event that a mother is already raising the child, it is unlikely that a father will be able to win sole custody without significant proof that the child is being harmed.

In general, it is no more complicated for unmarried couples to come to a child custody or visitation agreement than it is for married couples getting divorced. Generally, the goal is to focus on the needs of the child as opposed to trying to hurt the other parent. An attorney could be helpful in crafting the terms of a parenting plan without the need to go to court. However, legal counsel may be of assistance in a formal trial as well.

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