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3 things unmarried fathers must know about child custody

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Fathers' Rights

You might be one of many Nebraska fathers who have never been married to your child’s other parent. If you’ve decided to file a petition to establish paternity and parenting time, there are several things you should know. If you have already established paternity, be prepared to provide evidence of that fact when you request child custody.

You might feel like you have two strikes against you because you are a father and are unmarried. In the past, there have indeed been stigmas attached to such issues. However, you’ll be glad to know that many men throughout Nebraska today have been able to successfully petition the court for physical and legal custody of their children, although they have never been married to their co-parent.

Top priority child custody issues for unmarried fathers

While the following list is not extensive because there are numerous other things you must know and must do if you hope to wish to seek custody or parenting time with your child, these three issues are critical to your success:

Timing is a matter of great importance: Every state has its own child custody guidelines, and in Nebraska, an unmarried father must file a petition to establish paternity or request custody or parenting time within four years of the child’s birth.

Knowledge of the other parent’s whereabouts is a must: To establish paternity of your child or request custody or parenting time, it is imperative that you know where his or her other parent is because the law requires a copy of your complaint to be delivered to the parent.

The court expects you to have a written parenting plan in hand when you appear: If you hope to gain the court’s favor as an unmarried father in a Nebraska child custody case, you must be prepared by having all necessary documents and information available, including a written parenting plan and child support proposal.

When the court requires you to file your complaint within four years of your child’s birth, you are to take the instruction literally. If you’re even one day late, your petition becomes null and void. As with most legal circumstances, there are exceptions to the rule; however, do not assume you know what they are. Instead, seek experienced guidance to ensure that you comply with Nebraska child custody laws.

A word about legal and physical custody

Understanding legal terms that are relevant to your child custody case will make it easier to navigate the family justice system. There are two main types of custody: legal and physical. The latter refers to where your child lives—his or her permanent residence. The former refers to the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child. Before heading to court, develop a clear set of goals, then determine exactly what you need to do to build a strong case.