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Unmarried and raising a child: What you should consider

Raising a child together when you're not married comes with its own complications. For instance, you'll need to choose your child's last name and make sure both your names are on the birth certificate to become legal parents to your child.

When you are unmarried, you'll need to decide if you want your child to have his or her father's last name, the mother's last name or a combination. If you aren't sure right away, you can always decide later and amend your child's name at the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

When you're not married, you can still claim your child on a tax form. However, only one parent can do so. Each year, you may want to swap who gets to claim your child, or you may want to split the deduction or return as you see fit. Sometimes, the parent who is the primary custodian takes the tax return, while other times both parents share custody and share the return. If you live together, this shouldn't be as much of a problem; the child can still be claimed only once, but the funds come into the same household. You might want to allow the person with the higher income to claim your child for a larger tax break.

There are many things to consider when you're unmarried, whether you live together or not. Deciding on visitation is a concern if you're not living together, but if you are, then that doesn't come into play at all in your case. Your attorney can help you with any factors in your case that you're unsure of, from helping file a name change for your child to designating who is a legal guardian.

Source: FindLaw, "Tips for Unmarried Parents who Want to Raise Children Together," accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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