How do I get sole custody if I was never married? 31 Answers as of July 08, 2013

We never married, but I want sole custody of my infant. How do I go about that?

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
Commence a paternity action.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
The Law Office of Erin Farley
The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
To determine custody of the child you must file paperwork for both parentage and custody. Each courthouse has a family law facilitator who can determine what forms are necessary and assist in completing the forms properly. California law requires that both parents meet with a mediator prior to any hearing. The mediator will try and have parents come to an ageement regarding the custody of the child. Depending on the rules of your particular county, the mediator may or may not make a recommendation to the judge about custody. If you and the child's Dad can agree on a parenting arrangment, I urge you to make an agreement and get your agreement filed with the Court. There are two types of custody: Physical Custody and Legal Custody. "Physical Custody" refers to the share of time the child spends with each parent and where the child llives. "Legal Custody" refers to the ability of a parent (or both) to make decisions affecting the health, education and welfare of the child. I am uncertain what you mean by wanting "sole custody". Do you mean you want the sole ability to make decisions for the child? Do you mean you want the child to live only with you and never see Dad? Do you mean you want the child to live primarily with you but have access to and visitation with Dad? Physical custody is a whole range of timeshare options from the most to least restrictive. I am always a bit disturbed when parents indicate they want "sole" custody, without facts indicating that the other parent is a child abuser or harm to this child. If those facts do not exist, I do not understand why you would not want Dad to be a part of the child's life. Regardless of whether parents are together or apart, the best situation for your child is that he or she feels loved by both parents. That child will see him or herself as 1/2 each of you - do you want to nurture and respect that 1/2 of your child that is Daddy or ignore and abandon an entire aspect of your child's character and history? Absent the threat of harm from Dad (and again I have no access to the particular facts), the best thing you can do for your child is to nurture and encourage the child's relationship with Dad. Good Luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/11/2011
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
By default and until a Judge orders otherwise, the Mother has sole custody of the minor child. However, if the Father files a paternity action, then his rights can be established which can include substantial time sharing or visitation, including overnights. You may want to discuss your matter with an attorney in order to best determine your potential rights and options.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/11/2011
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
File a paternity action in your local courthouse that handles family law.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/11/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
You start similar to a divorce. If you were married, you would ask for custody orders in the divorce proceedings. Since there is no marriage to dissolve, you simply ask the court for custody orders. My firm routinely handles matters like this one and if you live in Collin County or Dallas County I would be happy to discuss the proceedings, cost, etc. with you and provide a free consultation for this purpose. Sole Custody is a commonly miss-used phrase. Perhaps you do intend Sole Managing Conservatorship, but I find most people think of sole custody as the right to establish domicile for the child. In Texas, we divide the three issues: Conservatorship (the right to make decisions for the child) is linked to Possession (the right to spend time with the child) but only lightly (you can have Sole Conservatorship and without affecting the other parent's possession rights, and vice versa); and neither of these are affected by Support (the duty/obligation to provide financially for the child). To state it another way, a custodial parent (the Attorney General uses this term which is much more accurate, but I personally think is a major source of the confusion on the terms) cannot deny the non-custodial parent visitation even if the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support and the non-custodial parent cannot withhold support when he/she is denied visitation - they are two separate rights/duties and not dependent upon one another.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/11/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    You will need to initiate custody proceedings at your county courthouse. There are a number of factors the court will take into consideration in deciding custody and the court will also set a child support amount for the non-residential parent.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You must file a case for custody and visitation of your child. A court is not likely to grant sole custody unless the other parent consents to sole custody or there are issues such as abuse, drugs or alcohol by the other parent. If you feel like there are circumstances sufficient to warrant sole custody, you should immediately contact an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    I can tell you how to attempt to get sole custody (when you file the application for custody, you would mark down that you are seeking sole as opposed to joint custody), I wonder if you really need it or if a court will actually grant it. There is a statutory presumption in favor of joint custody and you would have to rebut the presumption to a court's satisfaction. That usually requires a showing that the other parent is unfit to be a joint custodial parent. Another thing to consider is that from the legal perspective, the primary difference between joint and sole custody is in the decision making area. In a joint custody situation, both parents are supposed to be involved in decision making. In sole custody, the primary parent makes decisions. It does not necessarily impact visitation or access to information.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    If you want your Sole Custody to be formally granted and officially ordered, then file a Custody Complaint with the Family Court in your county and serve the infant's father and maybe consider a Petition to Confirm the Custody Status Quo as well.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    file an application in court
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Since you don't say whether you are the mother or father, it isn't clear what the correct answer to your question is. If you are the mother, you have full control simply by virtue of the birth. That is true until such time as any court action occurs, so as the mother you really don't need to do anything unless/until the father does something. An unmarried father has no legal rights whatsoever until a court spells out what those rights are. Colorado does not use the term custody, so your use of the term "sole custody" really has no legal significance. If and when a court case is begun to establish paternity of the father, the court will need to adopt a Parenting Plan to allocate parental responsibilities, including the amount of time with each parent and decision-making responsibilities, and obligations (i.e. child support) based on the child's best interests. If the parents can agree on a suitable Plan, the Court will most likely approve it. If there is no agreement, a judge will have to adopt the plan on its own. To avoid prolonging things and to obtains some certainty, it will be best for both parents and the child to begin a paternity case right away.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    In Arkansas an unwed mother is assumed to have sole custody, the father has minimal rights until his paternity is legally established and he requests custody or visitation in a court action. I suggest that you initiate a petition for paternity on your own in order to be able to get an order for child support, and custody of course is presumed to be with you until a court determines otherwise. It is not that easy for an unmarried male to get custody of his child absent serious issues with the mother's fitness. He would likely get visitation though if he went to court.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You will need to know what documents to file and what declarations you will need. In most cases the court will award joint legal custody and will then decide how to split up physical custody. You have too much at stake not to meet with a family law lawyer now.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    In Alabama judges will not award custody of children under 5yrs of age. In your situation paternity must be proved, second you would have to show that the mother is unfit, and third that it would be in the child's best interest. If you lived with the mother for anytime, and represented yourselves as a couple you may fall under Alabama's common law marriage statute and if either of you try to marry someone else, a divorce must be obtained first. If the child was born during this period of common law marriage, a legal question arises that must be dealt with in the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    Child custody is not controlled by the marital relationship or the lack thereof. File a custody complaint.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    From your question, I don't know if you are mom or dad. If you are mom, and there are no orders from the court to the contrary, by statute you are the sole residential and custodial parent. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. If you are dad, your chances of gaining sole custody and slim, and virtually impossible without assistance from an attorney. Please contact a domestic relations attorney to discuss your issue.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend you hire a lawyer concerning your rights and options in a legitimation action. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    In Washington, it's called a Parentage action. This will establish a parenting plan and child support. C
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You haven't told us if you are the mother or father. The two answers would be very different.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    441 Legal Group, Inc.
    441 Legal Group, Inc. | Gareth H. Bullock
    File a petition with the Family Court in the county that you and the child live.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    File a petition for paternity to establish that the bio dad is the father as well as a motion asking for sole legal and physical custody.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO
    Lewis, Pfanstiel & Williams, PCLO | Ryan J. Lewis
    You have to file a a Complaint to establish paternity, custody, child support and visitation.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Elmbrook Law Offices
    Elmbrook Law Offices | Gregory Straub
    If you are adjudicated the father of the child, you will be able to gain joint custody of the child. It is unlikely that the a parent will be granted sole custody unless there is verified proof of actions that would significantly harm the well being of the child.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    You say you were never married. Therefore, my first question is: Was paternity ever established, either through the paternity declaration process or through court action? If not, that is going to be the first thing you are going to have to do. his is because most courts in Washington will not address parenting and custody until paternity is established in some fashion. Once paternity is established, then, the process is court action to establish a parenting plan. What that parenting plan ends up looking like will depend on a number of factors.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    If you haven't been to court for an order addressing paternity, the mother has sole custody and placement.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    You need to start a paternity action and request a temporary hearing for immediate orders for placement and custody. I suggest working with an attorney as it can become complicated.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    If this case is in Georgia, and you are the mother, you already have sole custody by operation of law, unless and until the father files a legitimation petition and gets legal rights to the child. If you are the father, you must file a legitimation petition and ask for custody/visitation rights.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/10/2011
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