Typically, family lawyers see two types of cases come through their door. Obviously, we are all aware of divorce as a family court issue. Divorce cases make up a significant portion of a family lawyer’s workload. But there is another fairly common situation that I have seen come through my door. This is called the custody and dissertation application. On this page, I will discuss a custody and dissertation application in more detail.
What is a Custody Application?
Questions of custody and dissertation come up if you have had a child with someone, but you were never married to the other parent of your child. Since you haven’t been married, you can’t file for divorce and establish child custody through that process.
Instead, you are going to the court to seek court orders regarding custody and visitation of your child. You might need a court to do this for you because without being married, your parental rights might be limited. This is especially the case if you are not listed on your child’s birth certificate. So, that should be the first thing that you figure out and try to deal with.
Not Listed on Birth Certificate
If you are not listed on your child’s birth certificate, you might have to go through probate court. But, keep in mind that there is a provision now that you can go through superior court if there’s a DNA test or something similar linking you to the child. So if you are not on the birth certificate, having a DNA test done will be important.
If you are listed on the birth certificate, you will have to seek some orders regarding access with the child, parenting time, as well as child support.
Those are the things that the court will handle if you’re not married. The court doesn’t have jurisdiction if you’re not married over other things, like splitting property, alimony, etc. If you and your child’s other parent break up, you will have to handle these other elements on your own. The court will only handle issues related to custody, child support, and any other legal aspects related to your child.
In What Situations Do You Usually See a Custody Application?
Sometimes we have clients who are either bringing or defending custody applications. In many cases, it might be a father who has been told that the child is his. In this case, he gets a DNA test, and now wants to be a part of the child’s life. Or sometimes it’s a couple that was living together that split up. Both parties need access to the child, but there are no financial orders in place, there is no mechanism to do any of these things because they’re not married. Being married does confer a lot more benefits than being unmarried in terms of the court.
In a custody application situation where there was no marriage, the court can then weigh in on types of support, such as paying for college, what kind of vacation access you have with the child, who gets to make the decisions regarding the child, etc.
If you want to bring a custody application to court, having a lawyer on your side can be a big help. Our staff is happy to provide assistance as you go through this experience. Call us today to learn more about your situation and what we can do for you.