What Are My Rights As An Unmarried Parent?
Being an unwed parent can be challenging, particularly if you have questions about your legal and parental rights. As a parent, you have certain rights ― and you need to enforce those rights when you and your child’s other parent cannot agree on how your child should be raised.
Parenting Plans: The Basics
For many unwed parents, their primary concern when it comes to their children is custody. In New Hampshire, “custody” is the informal term used to describe the process in which parental rights and responsibilities are assigned through a parenting plan. Specifically, a parenting plan is a court-issued order that outlines:
- The decision-making authority of each parent
- The residential responsibilities of each parent, including where the child will live and go to school
- The parenting schedule of each parent, including where the child will spend holidays, weekends, birthdays and vacations
The actual legal process used by unmarried parents for establishing parenting plans is very similar to the procedures used by divorcing parents, except unmarried parents file a Petition for Parental Rights and Responsibilities, as opposed to a Petition for Divorce.
The guiding principle in any custody dispute is the best interests of the child. Importantly, it is New Hampshire policy that children do best when they have a meaningful and stable relationship with both parents ― a policy that applies to married and unmarried parents alike. Generally speaking, absent a compelling reason, mothers and fathers are both entitled to equal or approximately equal parenting time.
Does Paternity Matter?
If there exists some uncertainty regarding paternity, it may create legal difficulties when seeking to establish parental rights and responsibilities, including custody and child support. In fact, paternity must typically be established before a father can be required to pay support or be allowed to seek custody.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you have questions about your legal rights and responsibilities as an unwed parent, contact The Legal Connection, P.C., today for an immediate, free consultation with an experienced attorney regarding parenting rights for both fathers and mothers. We can help address any legal concerns you may have about being an unmarried parent, including concerns related to child custody and support.
Phones are answered 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays. We respond to emails within 12 hours. Our fees are very reasonable. If you decide to engage our firm to represent you, a retainer will be required. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and checks are accepted. Payment plans are available.
Send a private, secure message or call +1 (603) 224-3555. From our office in Concord, we represent clients throughout Merrimack County, Hillsborough County and Belknap County.