Unwed father and custodial rights



I’m not married, however I’m living with the mother of our 6 month old child in a jointly signed apartment. I am legally signed to the birth certificate as the father but have taken no other action to secure custodial rights other than that of which was considered paperwork at the hospital.

Currently the mother has been going back and forth with the claim that she plans to move out and take our child with her (this unpredictable behavior has been going on since her second term of pregnancy, where she ended the engagement and initiated the successful sale of our home). What rights do I have as an unwed father to obtain custody of our child versus the mother picking up, leaving and claiming custody?

As of now, we both share responsibilities as far as taking care of our son in the home, i.e. bathing, putting him to sleep, washing clothes, feeding, etc). However, I manage all finances pertaining to him and I, including his insurance, while the mother cannot properly seem mange her own finances (always behind on maintaining balance in her own accounts despite she is the bread winner in the “family” – she is only responsible for her contribution to bills, rent, and her portion to daycare expenses and groceries). I am also the primary one that takes him to church weekly, dropping him off and picking him up from daycare daily, in addition to taking care of at home after daycare (visiting him for lunch sporadically throughout the week at daycare). Weekly, from 4pm until 6-6:30pm, I am alone with him after daycare while the mother is still at work, not to mention all day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while mother has therapy appointments or goes to the gym after her normal work routine, coming home once he is already asleep.

Does her lack of participation, lack of financial involvement, and lack of ability to manage her own finance play into who has primary custody? To be honest, I’m not looking to exclude her at all – I just want to be the person to determine what’s in the best interest of our child on a day-to-day basis without interferences from her sporadic behavior and endless threats to leave with the child thus interrupting our normal routine(s).

Any thoughts on how to proceed, actions I need to take, or how I need to better align myself if custody and her leaving with the child come to fruition? Your advise is much appreciated.



You have just as much right to your child as a married father. You should meet with an attorney to create a plan of action for when your child’s mother does leave. It sounds as though you are the primary caregiver, and therefore have a good chance of remaining the primary custodian in the event of a split.