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Mothers' Rights in Child Custody Decisions


In a divorce, courts generally prefer parents to have joint custody of children. Depending on your state's laws, custody decisions may be part of the legal divorce, or may take part in a separate hearing.

Mothers, unless found unfit or there are other circumstances in the case that would prevent joint custody, usually share physical custody of the kids as well as legal custody of the children with the biological father.

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Typically in joint custody situations, children may live in either parent's home, but have open visitation with the other parent. Parents work together and consult each other in making major decisions regarding the child's life.

Mothers' Child Custody Rights in Paternity Testing

In most states, mothers have the right to ask for paternity testing on behalf of a child against the alleged biological father. The court may order DNA paternity testing to determine if a man is the child's biological father.

After paternity is established, a mother has the right to seek child support from the biological father. A mother may also ask the court to order the biological father to obtain or share the costs of medical insurance for the child and pay a part of any uninsured medical expenses.

A father's child custody rights allow him to seek physical and legal child custody in a paternity action or after paternity has been determined; he may also be awarded child visitation rights.

Single Mothers' Child Custody Rights

In most states, when an unmarried mother has a child, she automatically has custody of the child.

A father must establish paternity to seek child custody rights and visitation. If there's not a court order regarding custody of a child born to an unmarried mother, the mother is generally presumed to have sole child custody.

Speak to a Divorce Attorney about Mothers' Child Custody Rights

Protect your relationship with your child and your rights to custody by speaking with a local divorce lawyer.

Call 877-349-1310 or fill out the case review form below to schedule a preliminary consultation today. Learn about your custody rights as a mother and how the child custody laws in your state may affect your case.

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The above synopsis of mothers' child custody rights is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.