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How is child custody determined for unmarried parents?

New York child custody laws have specific considerations for unmarried parents. In some areas, parents who are not married have the same rights as married parents who wish to separate.

That being said, however, some issues are more common regarding child custody for unmarried parents. See below for some complications for parents seeking custody when not married.

Proof of Paternity

When parents are unmarried, the father may face questions about his paternity. Usually, the mother, for obvious reasons, does not face such legitimacy concerns. The father must establish paternity through the court either by an Acknowledgment of Paternity form or via court petition. Court petition requires genetic proof that the male is the father.

Habeas Corpus

Under habeas corpus, either parent has the right to bring their child in front of a court to determine custody. The court will make a judgment based on the best interests of the child. The court considers the financial and emotional circumstances of both parents and several other factors. Once the court decides the custody arrangement, a parent may file for a warrant to take physical custody of the child. This is only necessary if a parent believes the child is in danger or if the other parent steals the child. This warrant grants the right for law enforcement to take the child away and deliver them back to the rightful guardian.

Child custody decisions in New York can be contentious. If you are the father and unmarried, you may face more hurdles if you want custody of your child. However, you still have rights such as habeas corpus that allow you to fight for your child.