What rights do I have if my girlfriend wants to take custody of our children? 27 Answers as of August 18, 2011

I was with my girlfriend for 9 years. She has never worked, I always did and still do. She left me for our roommate who has never had a job either. They have no place to go and she wants to take our kids. What rights do I have in keeping them? They live with me now and she wants to take them to her moms to live.

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Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
Regardless of the status of the relationship with your girlfriend, you want to make sure that your children are safe and provided for. I would suggest making an appointment to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. You want to discuss filing for either a temporary custody order or permanent custody order.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/18/2011
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
Has there been a legal determination of paternity done through the courts? If not, that is where you should start to make sure that your rights as a parent are protected.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/12/2011
Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
You can obtain a court order preventing her from taking the children from their home until the court has a chance to decide the custody issue. That could take several months, and in the meantime, the children will be living with you.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 7/5/2011
ROWE LAW FIRM
ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
You have the same rights as a father as she has as a mother, provided that you have formally declared the children to be yours. In Louisiana this requires a formal act of acknowledgement of paternity, which is a document that must be executed before a notary and two witnesses, or a judgment of paternity from a court. You should see an attorney and file for custody if you wish to remain as the person with whom the children will primarily live.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/1/2011
Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
You can start a third party custody action.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/1/2011
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC
    Meriwether & Tharp LLC | Patrick Meriwether
    If the children were born out of wedlock and you have not legitimized them through the Courts, you technically have no legal rights. You will need to file a legitimation action, and, in that action, you can seek primary physical custody.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You may find the following link useful: http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/ChildCustody/childcustody .htm
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Since you are not married and, apparently, there has never been any court order granting you any specific rights, the simple answer is that you don't have any rights yet and the mother can do whatever she chooses until a court says otherwise. You need to file a court proceeding to have both parents' rights specified in a suitable court order that allocates parental responsibilities, decision-making authority, and the time the children spend with each parent. If you and the mother cannot agree, the Court will make decisions on a suitable parenting plan based on the best interests of the children. Those best interests are, generally, not related to whether or not a parent has a job.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Until you get court orders you have the same rights she has to the children.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    I would recommend that you retain a family law lawyer in your area ASAP and ask him or her about your rights and options in a legitimation action. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    You need to file a paternity action in order to establish your legal rights to the children, as well as determine (either by agreement or through a Judge) who will have what parental responsibility for the children and how the time with the children will be shared. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible in order to assist you with the process and discuss your potential rights and options. My office offers free initial telephone consultations if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, as well as explore the potential rights and options available.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    You are the father, you have parental rights. Your rights are equal to the mom's in all respects. That said, the best thing you can do is file a Suit to Establish Paternity and Custody.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    This will ultimately be determined by a judge. The judge will look at several factors, one of which will be which parent can provide a more stable environment for the children. You may want to discuss with an attorney the particulars of your case and begin the process of having everything taken care of.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    First, I am going to assume you are in the State of Washington, where I'm at. This is because other states have other laws on this subject. Second, I am going to assume that you and your girlfriend were never married to each other. Was paternity ever legally established for these children? If it was not, then, until a court rules on the issue, you may not have much, if any rights. If paternity was established, then, until there is a parenting plan entered, you and the mother are going to have more or less equal rights. Regardless, it sounds to me like you need to get into court at your earliest opportunity and at least establish a parenting plan. You may also have to establish paternity. You will probably need an attorney for both of these.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Unfortunately, until a court order establishes custody and parenting time between unmarried parents, the mother is the presumed custodial parent and has the only enforceable rights. A father must commence a custody action and seek a court order to change that presumption.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Florida is a shared responsibility state. both parents have equal rights.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    If this is in Connecticut, you should immediately file an application for custody and support. That way, a status quo is established that is not supposed to be changed without agreement or court order.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren
    Law Office of Patricia Van Haren | Patricia Van Haren
    You should immediately file a Petition for Custody and Visitation and request that the court award you primary physical custody or at least joint custody. Right now there are no custody orders in place which means that each of you has an equal right to custody. Another option is to work out a custody agreement with your girlfriend where you both share custody of the children.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under Washington law it is up to the court to decide the residential schedule for the children. If the children are living with you now, then you may want to file an action with the court to obtain a court order keeping their primary residence with you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    Retain an experienced Family Law Attorney to file and pursue a Paternity (Uniform Parentage Act) case and an Order to Show Cause on your behalf, to seek custody rights to your children. Don't delay doing so.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    From the limited facts you stated, it sounds like you may be able to establish yourself as the primary custodial parent, and the mother would get some amount of parenting time (visitation). Yet, I'm guessing that the mother may have a different version of the facts. Best to call a local family law lawyer to help you with a parentage action, including establishing custody and visitation orders. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    The answer depends on what state you are in, and you failed to state that vital fact. In many states you have no rights to the child at all unless you go to court and legitimate the child and seek custody rights. See a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    Since the two of you were never married, you currently have no custody rights. You will have to establish your custody/visitation rights through the court. Otherwise, the mother can take the children away at anytime. It sounds like you are the stable and responsible parent, so I would suggest that you file for custody as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    You need to consult with a domestic relations attorney in a hurry, In many states including Ohio, the unmarried father has no rights to visitation or custody of his children absent an order of the court. You may yet get that order, but you need legal assistance now.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    It depends on the laws in the state in which you live. In Georgia, you would need to file a petition for legitimation and custody in order to get legal rights, as in Georgia a biological father of a child out of wedlock does not have any rights to the children at all and must file a legitimation petition to be recognized as a legal parent. You need to have a consultation with an attorney in your area to determine what your legal rights currently are and discuss a custody case.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/29/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    You will need to file for custody and show why you would be a better parent.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/29/2011
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