Questions about Unmarried Parents Rights? Ask Slater.
In Washington State, who has custody of a child when the parents are not married?▾
In Washington State, when two unmarried parents have a child, custody defaults to the mother. However, if paternity is established for the father, his rights as a parent will hold equal weight in court. A legal Parenting Plan is usually the best path toward making the parenting rights and responsibilities clear for both unmarried parents. Parenting Plans spell out who the “primary residential parent” is, how much parenting time the “nonprimary residential parent” will get, what child support, if any, will be awarded, and much more.
Who is the custodial parent in Washington State?▾
Washington courts no longer use the terms “custodial parent” and “noncustodial parent.” From the court’s perspective, an all-or-nothing custody battle is rarely in the best interest of the child. Therefore, Washington uses the more child-friendly terminology of a Parenting Plan. This is a wide-reaching legal plan that spells out where the child will live, how much time each parent can expect to spend with the child, where the child will spend holidays, attend school, and much more. In the case of unmarried parents who both have established paternity, parenting plans can be established in pretty much the same process set out for married parents who are divorcing. If the father is not established as the child’s biological father, paternity must be legally established before a parenting plan can be created.
What rights does a father have to a child born out of wedlock?▾
In Washington, unmarried fathers have access to the same parenting rights as mothers, but they must first establish paternity. This is a legal process meant to establish that a man is the biological father of a child. Usually the mother’s name is stated on the child’s birth certificate making her paternity a cut-and-dry fact. Once paternity is taken care of, a Parenting Plan is usually the best way to make parenting rights and responsibilities clear.