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Child custody: Unmarried couples have disputes, too

It should go without saying, but many cases involving visitation disputes aren't divorce cases. There are a great number of people who have children together but who never got married.

Custody disputes come up often in that situation because there are laws that presume that the mother should have sole physical custody. It's normal to see a father lose his bid at custody against a mother who is a good mother in this situation.

What happens when there's a custody dispute between unmarried parties?

Initially, the situation is treated similarly to a divorce case. There is an opportunity to design a visitation agreement or to go to a judge for help obtaining visitation. The father does need to establish paternity if he has not done so yet. He should be aware that establishing paternity is likely to result in child support requirements as well.

With unmarried couples, there are no additional disputes to worry about, so the case can usually be resolved fairly quickly. Without having to worry about property division or spousal support, it's easier to focus on the needs of the child involved in the case. In that way, the resolution of custody and visitation concerns is sometimes easier in unmarried cases.

If you and your child's other parent can't agree on custody or visitation, there is help available for you. If you can't resolve your concerns outside court, then a family judge can listen to your arguments and decide on the right place for your child to call home and when the other parent should have visitation.

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