Family law across the country, including in Fargo, tends to favor marries couples who have children. However, this does not mean that unmarried couples who have children, biological or adopted, have no rights under the law.
Even where the parents are not married to one another, they should ensure that both of their names are included on the birth certificate, giving both parents legal rights such as child custody, and responsibilities such as child support. The presumption that the father is the legal father of the child is thrown out the window when the couple is married, which is why fathers also have to sign an affidavit acknowledging their paternity. If this is not done at the time of birth, names can be added on the birth certificate at a later time. Adding the parent’s name to the birth certificate also ensures that children become eligible to receive their parent’s government benefits, such as social security or governmental pension.
Adoption, on the other hand, is slightly more difficult, but not impossible, for unmarried couples. Unfortunately, social services agencies often end up assuming a married couple’s home could provide more stability than an unmarried couple’s one. This means unmarried couples may have to do more work to prove their credibility. Both unmarried parties would be considered the children’s parents, which means a separation would allow each parent to ask for custody and visitation with the kids.
Unmarried partners who do not claim themselves as the children’s parents may end up with no rights of custody or visitation if the couple separates. If both parties come to a written agreement regarding their role in the children’s life it might be enforceable in court, otherwise the matter is left up to state law. Therefore, unmarried couples should consider speaking to an experienced attorney to know where they stand with regards to any children in the relationship and how to go about legalizing it.