Parental rights are not always automatically recognized. Sometimes, you must ask the court to establish your rights. This guide lists some ways the parent-child relationship can be legally established if you are un unmarried parent.
The Mother-Child relationship can be established through the following means:
(a) the woman's having given birth to the child, except as otherwise provided as part of a gestational agreement;
(b) an adjudication of the woman's maternity;
(c) adoption of the child by the woman; or
(d) an adjudication confirming the woman as a parent of a child born to a gestational mother if the agreement was validated or is enforceable under other law.
The Father-Child relationship can be established through the following means:
(a) an unrebutted presumption of the man's paternity of the child (for example, he and the mother of the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated);
(b) an effective declaration of paternity by the man, unless the declaration has been rescinded or successfully challenged;
(c) an adjudication of the man's paternity;
(d) adoption of the child by the man;
(e) the man having consented to assisted reproduction by a woman, which resulted in the birth of the child; or
(f) an adjudication confirming the man as a parent of a child born to a gestational mother if the agreement was validated or is enforceable under other law.
Without the establishment of the parent-child relationship, the duties and rights associated with that relationship do not exist, such as custody and visitation or child support.
Once the parent-child relationship is established, the rules of custody and parent visitation apply no differently than if the couple were married. The standard used by the court for determining custody is called the "best interest of the child" and the factors the court considers are the needs of the child, the child's bond to the parents, and the parenting skills of the parties.