The Rights of Unmarried Fathers
In the last few decades, the picture of what a couple looks like has become much more diverse. It is now common to see couples that are different races, that have a wide age gap between them, and that are the same sex. In line with this trend, the marital status of couples that have children these days has also changed. Of the 140 million children born worldwide in 2016, a whopping 21 million were born out of wedlock. And here in Canada, over 30 percent of children were born to unmarried parents in 2014 compared to less than ten percent just a few decades ago.
While maternity is obviously never an issue, the rising number of children who are born out of wedlock leaves significant room for questions concerning the rights of unmarried fathers. The experienced family law lawyers at Zagazeta Garcia LLP have significant experience successfully helping unmarried fathers maximize their legal rights.
What Are My Rights as an Unmarried Father?
Custody. This right concerns which parent is entitled to make major life decisions for your children, such as where they live, go to school, attend daycare etc. Custody may be “sole” meaning that this decision-making power is held entirely by one parent or it may be “joint” meaning that it is shared between both parents, either legally or physically. Even if you were never married to your children’s mother, you have every right to seek custody.
Access. This right is usually afforded to whichever parent is not granted custody and involves a right to physically spend time with your child as well as be kept informed of your child’s health and well-being. The extent of this access can vary greatly depending upon individual circumstances, but every unmarried father has a general right to have access to his children unless a court orders otherwise.
Support. This right is afforded to unmarried fathers who become custodial parents, an arrangement that is becoming more commonplace in our society. The right of support dictates that the noncustodial parent may be required to contribute financially to the upbringing of your children.
I Get Along With the Mother of My Children. Do I Still Need to Exercise My Legal Rights?
In almost all circumstances, yes. No one can predict how a relationship will progress in the future and it is much easier to reach an amicable agreement while you are on good terms. Further, having already stipulated legal custody, access and support essentially cements your legal rights from the very beginning and helps ensure there will never be delays in being able to exercise these rights.
Are You Seeking Clarity About Your Rights as an Unmarried Father?
If you have questions about your rights in relation to your children, you should reach out to an experienced family law attorney who can help clarify your situation. The Mississauga child custody lawyers at Zagazeta Garcia LLP have significant experience helping men like you ensure that you maintain the parental rights you are entitled to. Contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can begin securing your place in your children’s lives.