Deciding to end a relationship is not easy. The numerous challenges that are known to arise afterward are not easy, either. This situation proves to be more difficult if the couple has a child together. While it is often easy to determine who should get a relative’s china or other small possessions, it can be much more challenging to determine how to divide parental rights. 

There are many important issues that courts consider when deciding child custody for unwed parents, and the following takes a brief look at them.

How Parental Rights are Established

For married individuals, the determination of how parental rights should be divided is often more clear-cut. In situations where the parents were never married, however, it is often more challenging to assess how parental rights are best divided. 

To assert any type of custodial rights, a parent in these situations must establish that he or she is the parent of the child. This process is much easier to complete for women, while men must complete a paternity test before being acknowledged as the child’s legal parent. 

If a father does not take a paternity test, then he will not automatically be awarded custodial rights, which can make matters much more complex. Fathers must then sign an acknowledgment of paternity. It is also possible for fathers to file a petition that establishes parental rights through a Georgia court of law. To navigate this often nuanced process, the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney is often vital.

How Georgia Courts Determine Child Custody

Georgia courts determine child custody on a case-by-case basis. This means that there is no routine arrangement that is provided for all unmarried couples in this situation. The terms of a parenting plan can be reached through either mediation or in a court of law. If the matters proceed before a judge, several factors that will be analyzed to decide child custody:

  • The child’s relationship with each parent’s family and community
  • The child’s wishes to stay with one parent over the other
  • Each parent’s ability to adequately for the child 
  • The nature of the relationship that the child has with both parents
  • Whether the parents have previously functioned as the primary caregiver

Based on these and several other factors, a judge will decide to either grant joint or sole custody. If a joint custody arrangement is reached, the child will spend time with both parents. If sole custody is awarded, one parent will be tasked with making decisions for the child, although visitation with the other parent will be likely.

Speak with an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer

If you have recently ended your relationship and are not sure how parental rights regarding your child will be divided, take comfort in knowing that an experienced lawyer can help. During a free case evaluation, an attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. will discuss your case and review your options. Contact us today for assistance.