Paternity Cases: Why The State Will Not Establish Custody?

Stange Law Firm, PC

In the United States, recent states show that approximately 40% of all children are born out-of-wedlock. For many, this is a surprising statistic. However, this has been a trend that has continued for some time.

When parents have children outside of wedlock, if they are in a committed relationship, those individuals usually do not seek a child custody or child support award from the court. The reality is that some couples these days raise children together as a couple without ever getting married.

However, many unmarried parents are not able to raise the children in a committed relationship. For example, many may be in a committed relationship when the children are born. But later, that relationship breaks off and the parties split, just like individuals who get married and divorced.

For other unmarried parents, they might not have ever been together in a committed relationship. The relationship could have been casual. They might have been together during the pregnancy, but later split.

Regardless, many are area that child support awards can often be awarded through state administrative agencies. In other words, one unmarried parent might try to obtain a child support award through the state.

For parents who seek this (and it’s usually the mother), they file paperwork administratively through the state, including financial information. The other parent (usually the father) then has to respond either admitting or denying paternity. They also are to file financial paperwork if they are the father.  If they deny they are the father, a paternity test is often ordered.

One important item that many do not reality is that while state administrative agencies will establish child support awards, they do not enter custody awards. For a parent who is seeking a custody award, it is almost always necessary to hire an attorney to file a paternity case in state court.

Obviously, the laws can vary in every state. Thus, it’s important that a party seek the advice of an attorney to talk about their exact situation. But for parents who want a custody order established, that is not something that a party can seek through a state administrative agency.

Many wonder why this is the case? Many would argue that it is not fair that a state administrative agency can set child support, but will not issue a custody order. In other words, they would argue that it is unfair that they have to pay child support, but that they cannot see their child.

Certainly different states can have their own reasons. But, practically speaking, many would theorize that states would prefer that parents pay child support for their children versus having to spend taxpayer dollars on state aid for children. At the same time, if a parent wants a custody order, many would theorize that the state would think that this responsibility should fall on the parent.

Many would disagree with the reasoning behind state administrative agencies setting child support orders without issuing a custody order. Some would argue that by doing this, it results in parents paying child support, yet being unable to see their children. But, for better or worse, that is the reality that unmarried parents face.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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