What Happens to My Rights of Access if I Have a Child with a Partner and We Are Unmarried?
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for unmarried couples to have children. This has presented a relatively new set of challenges when these couples decide to separate.
The good news is that unmarried parents have many of the same rights that married ones do in New York. For instance, it is possible under state law for unmarried parents to claim visitation, custody, and child support.
What Are Some Issues that Can Arise in Cases Where Partners Are Unmarried?
Nonetheless, other issues may arise in such cases that do not usually attend typical divorce cases. As an example, questions of paternity are more likely to arise in these cases than they are in more traditional divorce matters.
Another issue that is more likely to arise is rights of access. Simply because the relationship between the adults is ending, the responsibilities of parenthood do not cease. As the couple separates, it is necessary to create a sensible and realistic plan for continuing to raise the children, ideally with both parents in the picture.
A big part of this plan is custody. "Custody" refers to legal responsibility for caring for a child. Residency or physical custody relates to where the child lives while legal custody relates more to the power to make decisions with regard to factors like health care and education.
How Are Decisions Regarding Physical Custody Handled in New York?
The parents or the court may make decisions with regard to the child's "physical custody," or primary residence, with one of the parents. Consequently, the other parent likely will be granted "visitation" rights, also referred to as “parenting time.” These are effectively rights of access that ensure that a child and parent are able to spend adequate time together to foster a meaningful relationship.
Either of the parents may be granted physical custody, and the other parent is virtually always granted rights of access. Remember that the standard applied by the courts is in “the best interest of the child.” Typically, this means having quality access to both parents. Even if you and your partner were never married, this should not be an obstacle to you or your former partner receiving rights of access.
Who Determines Visitation?
The court determines whether or not visitation is in the child's best interest, but, if possible, it's wise to try to settle such matters out of court. Mediation is a sensible and less confrontational option that can settle questions of custody and rights of access.
Need Assistance with Your Rights of Access in New York?
If you would like to learn more about rights of access, contact the Sabra Law Group today by calling (646) 472-7971.