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Child custody disputes and unmarried parents

Child custody conflicts are some of the most frustrating things a parent can experience, and sometimes require one parent to take serious action to protect his or her rights. For unmarried parents facing custody decisions, it is important to use all available tools to ensure that both parties share a fair balance between parental responsibilities and rights.

If you find yourself facing the difficult task of sorting out a custody arrangement with someone who is not your spouse, you have a very important task ahead of you. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the other parent, you may want to approach sharing custody a number of ways. In many instances, it is normal for an unmarried mother of a child to receive sole custody, but a father may fight for certain custody and visitation rights if he chooses.

While this is certainly a difficult chapter for many parents, it is sometimes useful to acknowledge that solely focusing on a custody conflict is often simpler than attempting to deal with custody issues while also dealing with the other things that divorcing couples must resolve.

Will a court decide custody?

For both married and unmarried parents negotiating custody and parenting agreements, courts usually prefer for parents to work together to determine how best to raise their child. However, a court will not approve a plan if it believes that it is not in the best interests of the child, and if a couple cannot produce a satisfactory plan, a court will issue one.

Some couples prefer to handle the matter casually without involving courts, but this is not advisable for either party. Even if things are relatively amicable at the moment, it is important to to define both parents' roles in the child's life, for the sake of the parents and the child.

Creating a parenting plan and securing an official custody order is important to ensure that both parents understand their rights and their responsibilities. It is wise to consider adding language to your parenting agreement that specifically restricts both parents from violating each other's rights or interfering with each other's time with the child. The more clearly you define these guidelines, the more recourse you both have if one of you does not abide by the agreement.

How can the court protect a parent?

Once a court issues a custody order, if either parent does not abide by the terms of the order, the court may levee punishments on them. This applies to all related orders, such as child support. However, it is important to understand that these orders are completely separate. Parents frustrated with late or missing child support payments, for instance, cannot simply withhold visitation rights from the offending parent. In this instance, a court may punish both parents in different ways.

In order to remain in good standing with a family court, it is important to fully understand your rights and responsibilities. If you need guidance, an experienced attorney can help you examine your circumstances and keep your rights protected as you build a life with the child you love.

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Weinman & Associates, P.C.
8200 North MoPac Expressway
Suite 230
Austin, TX 78759

Phone: 512-472-4040
Fax: 512-472-4086
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