Child Custody no Marriage


Dear List,

My girlfriend and I mutually split up earlier in the summer. We have a two year old child together. Currently we have been exchanging the little girl every other week and I have been giving $400 a month to the mother for care of my daughter. I also pay for the mother’s health insurance as well as the child. All was fine till the mother decided to try and get back in a relationship with me and I said no.

Now she is threatening me with legal issues, custody, and court ordered child payment. I feel it is a bluff but I do not want to be pressured. I am willing to retain an attorney but I would like to know what are the most likely scenarios I will have to face.

Here is additional background. The mother moved with the child to South Carolina. The mother still has a NC driver’s license and cannot get a SC drivers license till she pays fines and back taxes so her status will be as a NC resident until she can pay those items off and that should be awhile. At least I think that is how I read it.

The mother has no income. She has not worked anywhere for three years. She lives in a government subsidized apartment that she had before we met and kept it even though she was living in NC. She kept this apratment unknown to me until I asked recently how she could afford to live for free. I am sure that was illegal but I really don’t care. The mother has been in a mental institution many years ago for observation of depression and suicidal thoughts. She claims to have major health issues (i.e. some heart condition but it was never evident backpacking or kayaking). As I stated earlier she does not work and hasn’t in three years.

I am the CEO of a non porift make about 46K a year, I am healthy, stable, own my on home, no criminal record, no drug problems, or issues of any kind. I don’t break laws but I guess that I was guilable when it came to this relationship. I was taken advantage of for almost four years supporting the mother the entire time but I am fine with that.

What are my legal options? I think it would be best if I were to have custody of my daughter and she have visitation. She cannot clearly take care of the child with no income but when I go and calculate payments I get raked over the coals because the mother doesn’t work.

I want what is best for my daughter. I know me raising her would be hard on the child as well as me; I don’t want the mother out of the plan but I do want to be protected as well as the child. My little girl is my world and I am so afraid that she is not going to have the life that she deserves.


You will have to make a legal claim/suit for custody based on your paternity and reasons for YOU having custody as in the best interest of the child. Yes, you are liable for child support and she can go to court to make claim for that and it will be determined via the child support calculator for NC. If you have primary custody of the child, then child support may not be an issue. The courts would allow the mom liberal visitation if they rule in your favor for primary custodianship.


Thank you so much for your quick response. I will monitor the board to see if there is additional input but it is rather clear that I need to act preemptively and retain counsel as it would be my best interest.

I do wonder if my legal claim is strong enough? She has not earned a wage in three years. She is currently unemployed. She has health issues but bringing those out in court may be impossible due to HIPPA laws. She does have mental instability but I doubt that I could make that presentable. Her residence is shaky as she has to have broken either laws or a contract as to retaining the apartment while living in NC.

I earn a good living. I own my house outright, there is no payment. I pay all of my bills. It is a good house and well maintained. I can provide for my daughter much better than she can. I have no legal, ethical, or moral issues.

How does one build a strong case?


Unmarried parents (with established paternity ie: birth certificate) have the same custody issues as married parents in NC. If your daughter was born in NC and has lived here, She legally was not allowed to move the child out of state without a legal agreement with you or approval from a judge. So you could go to court and file a motion to have the child returned to NC if she gets hostile or denies visitation. As of right now, neither one of you has actual custody over the other and have equal access to your child. I am unsure about the drivers license issue, since she has maintained a legal residence in SC. But from what I understand if the child lives in SC for 6 months, that becomes the child’s home state. I would definitely at least have a consultation with an attorney ASAP because when you are dealing with taking a child out of state with the chance it might become the home state in which the hearings will be held you may run into some sticky issues. Wish you the best of luck, I am going through a similar situation, but I am the mom.


I suggest you file suit for child custody as soon as possible to get the ball rolling. As the father of this child you have a right to have time with her, whether you married the mother or not.