Never Married Parents
The Federal government reckons that nearly half of all Children are born to never married parents. Parenting Magazine reports that by reaching 12 years of age, two-thirds of the Children of never married parents will see their parents go their separate ways.
Public policy is to reduce, with an eye to eliminating, any distinction between how Children of married and never married parents are treated as their parents disengage. Actions for Custody, Parenting Time and Support are to fill the gap.
Legal Custody. Legal custody pertains to access to medical and educational records, together with decision making authority for a child. Absent a contrary Court order unmarried mothers enjoy sole legal and physical custody for their Children; married Parents, on the other hand, are presumed to share legal custody for their Children. Moving unmarried fathers from the presumption of no legal custody towards the level of shared legal custody enjoyed by married fathers has become the new norm.
Parenting Time. Just as with the Children of married parents, the accepted expectation is: the interests of Children of never married parents are best served by frequent, ongoing and substantial contact with both parents. In best circumstances, never married parents should adopt a Parenting Schedule promoting shared parenting.
Child Support. On the same premise that a parents’ rights and obligations should be blind to marital status, never married parents’ support obligation includes: the typical notion of weekly Child Support payments, allocating costs for Children’s unreimbursed medical and activity expenses, and providing health insurance coverage for the Children. To the extent possible, Child Support should integrate weekly support payments, out-of-pocket costs and insurance payments to: adequately provide for each child and fairly allocate the costs to the Parties in proportion to their ability to pay. For that purpose we use established Child Support Guidelines.