Custody??? Do you have to go through court to get full custody as a single mother?

Sarah - posted on 02/20/2010 ( 355 moms have responded )

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My son is 4 years old. I take care of him without any financial help from the father. We have never been to court. He signed the birth certificate at birth and my son has his last name. My son has always lived with me. Does his dad have any rights to him, say if he were to take him and not give him back? Or is there something that I have to do through court to get full custody?

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Darlene - posted on 12/02/2012

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My sister was in your situation. Then one day when her son was 6 years old the Dad picked him up for a weekend visit. He didn't return the boy. She called the police but when they found out she had never filed for custody. The police told her they could NOT help her. The Dad had just as many rights as she did. I took us 3 years to find them and another 2 years of court battles to get him back. It is cheaper and easier to get custody now. Please do it. Plus the court will set up visitation and Child Support. Odds are since the father has not been a part of your childs life he will not ever do the visitation. but if he does he better have the boy back on time.

Christine Tiffany - posted on 12/02/2012

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yeah most likely. and my daughter has her dads lastname she 17 and hasnt seen him sense she was 3yrs and hes on her birth certificate. i had go for visits with her dad but he also walked because situation he didnt want or like and never came back.

Chana - posted on 12/02/2012

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you can request mediation. If it fails, you will have to see a judge. If you ask for 100% custody without police reports and documentation confirming that the father is abusive, a drug addict, or a violent/sexual criminal, you will not do well in mediation. Your best bet is to seek legal aid in your district an create a custody arrangement that will allow fair access to both parents. If you do not want to deal with the father, you can request that the visitation exchanges be made at your local police station.

Erin - posted on 12/02/2012

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you do have to go before a judge...because whether we like it or not he can go and possible object to your request.........it sucks but how it works

Chana - posted on 11/30/2012

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You must go to court! Establish paternity and determine visitation/custody. the father has rights, denying him will only reflect negatively upon you. The only way to safeguard your rights as a mother is to take action and establish fair an amicable arrangements. You may be able to settle in mediation and never need to see a judge. Seek legal aid in your district.

Sandy - posted on 11/29/2012

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actually, if you read the handbook for Child Support/Custody in most states (not all of them) it says very clearly "If a child is born out of wedlock, the father has NO RIGHTS to the child at all." I know this is not fair to some dads who are wonderful dads, but unless the father is married to the mother when the child is born, he doesn't have any rights until he "proves paternity" in the court. In other words, takes the DNA test ordered directly by the court. Here's another bizarre situation but true, (I am proof as this is how my biological parents conceived me) IF the mother is still married to another man, and she conceives a child with a man that is NOT her husband, her HUSBAND is the "legal father". The court is very old fashioned still so they believe that the father of the child is the husband until proven otherwise. Therefore, MY dad had NO RIGHTS to me...I did not even see him for 32 years, and another man raised me. SO.....yes, because you have not been to court he could come and take the child and not give them back. without a court order, that's what could happen. HOWEVER...you can go in and file a petition for custody on your own and if the father never responds, you will probably just be granted sole custody. I suppose it depends on the judge but usually that's the case.

Jennifer - posted on 11/29/2012

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in Michigan YES you do have to file otherwise you both have equal rights. And if he doesnt want to give him back and you havent filed then NO he doesnt have to give him back until you go through court. Good Luck

Amanda - posted on 11/27/2012

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At Dottie my husband had a child that he didn't even know about until she was 3 and the child support agency came after him like he was a dead beat father!!! Now we pay 1300$ a month and have never seen her!! We tried to contact the mom and her current husband who she so cordially allowed to be there for the birth and they said that they will do everything in their power to fight us on joint custody. Not all men are the bad guys in these situations my husband admits he made poor decisions being careless during their 1 month relationship but now his wages are garnished our taxes are taken and we have never seen her and the mom and step father refuse to respond the our emails!! BTW my husband is a decorated army soldier for the past 20 years so calling all men dead beats really isn't fair unless you know everyone's stories. Anyone who has advice please contact me. Also the child support was originally established in Alaska the child now lives in Germany as her mother and step father are also active duty soldiers. I can't afford an attorney. Someone has to know what we can do. How can she deny him visitation he is legally the father and has paid ever since he found out she was alive.

Jennifer - posted on 11/27/2012

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you have to go to court, at least in michigan you do. And he can appeal the custody order if he wants. If your not married and you dont file he has EQUAL rights to you. If you take your child to him and he doesnt let you get him back you will have to go against him in court. big big mess.

Scott - posted on 11/26/2012

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My oh keepss telling mee she wantss nothingg too doo withh ourr youngest and keepss chucking her aboutt likee aa ragdollll whenn shee getss madd att herr watt should I do

Angelica - posted on 11/25/2012

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There is physical custody and then there is legal custody. I have both. I live in NY and filed on my own without a lawyer. I was supporting my son on my own since birth. Because at no point I lived with the father it helped my case for sole custody. That does not necessary take away all the fathers rights but it does make my word the final say on anything that concerns my child. I also filed and was granted child support around the same time. Best of luck. File for custody. It protects you and the child.

Dottie - posted on 11/19/2012

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Most courts will tell you that paying child support and receiving visitation DO NOT go hand in hand, it is your obligation to financially support your child but it is a gift to receive visitation...any man can be a father but it takes a special one to be a Daddy!! If you ask me, 4 years without seeing or asking about your child...does not make one a Daddy!!

Teresa - posted on 11/18/2012

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check with your health dept. under the punitive fathers registry, to see if his name is there wanting to be involved with his baby. if not great. but let your state agency try to find him for child support and when he flips out , offer him sign his rights away to you.they always do.they never want to pay

Cathrine - posted on 11/17/2012

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u have to go thru court. my x husband while still married but had agreed on divorcing took my kids for thanksgiving break last year. he never brought them back. he left the state we lived in . He had full right because we did not have a parenting plan. u need a parenting plan. I did not see my 3 youngest in 3 months because that's how long it took to find them and go thru court to have them ordered back to me and then serve him. make sure u have a parenting plan. pls those 3 months were the worst in my life.... don't let this happen to u

Heather - posted on 11/13/2012

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Here in Nl,Canada we do have to go to court to get this done. This is what I had to do when my kids were small. it is better to have it this way, that way you have legal papers to have to back you up on any situation.

Heather - posted on 11/13/2012

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One thing to consider is that if you recieve child support through the state, paternity was most likely established when the judge signed the support order. (The state normally does this)

Heather - posted on 11/13/2012

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Ladies- everyone seems to be debating about the custody status of a child when the parents were unmarried... so maybe this will help clarify!



Being named on the birth certificate does not establish paternity for the sake of custody. In order for an unwed father to gain rights to the child, a "motion to establish paternity" action has to go through family court.



Establishing parentage means obtaining a court order that says who the legal parents of a child are. For example, if the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until parentage is established. So even if a father can prove he is the biological father of a child, if he was never married to the mother, he does not legally have any rights or responsibilities for the child. For that, parentage must be established legally.



Establishing parentage is necessary before custody, visitation will be ordered by a court. You can ask the judge for child support or custody and visitation orders as part of a case that establishes the child’s parentage.

If a person does not admit that he or she is the parent, the court may order the alleged father, mother, and child to submit to genetic testing.





Once a person is established as the father or mother of a child, he or she will have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent.

Heather - posted on 11/13/2012

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Yes, you can look it up online- check rights of unwed mothers in (your state).

Heather - posted on 11/13/2012

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YES YES YES You need to file! You DO have full custody right now- BUT that is only by default. It doesn't mean anything in family court. The custody case will be an intial determination- meaning the court views it as the first time custody has been decided. Once you have established a court order giving you Primary custody, it will be much more difficult for him to ever take you back. He would have to meet the standard for modification- which is much much harder than the intital determination. I know it is confusing, but talk to a lawyer ASAP. Your current situation puts you at risk for him filing for custodial rights to the child- and getting it. Be aware that most custody cases are settled- it is only the worst ones that go before a judge- so chances are that you can get a court order without the trauma of a trial.

Jessica - posted on 11/13/2012

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In Vermont I have been told too that the mother is automatically given full custody. I wonder if you could look it up on line?

Jessica - posted on 11/13/2012

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well i live in michigan and i have a paper from when i gave birth that is called the affidavid of parentage and it says the mother initially has full custody of the child until otherwise decided by court. so my babys sperm donor is threatening to take me to court and get full custody of her just to spite me and says he wont let me see her once he does this. he is an unfit father his house is disgusting he barely ever sees her and doesn't pay child support. so i dont kno if i have to go file for full custody because according to the paper i have it says i have full custody. anybody can helpme?

Carla - posted on 11/12/2012

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my son had to take his sons mom to court just to be able to visit him and he was paying child support and still didn't get to spend time alone or take him any where.He does now though and altho she still tryes to call the shots he lets her know its not going to happen..The thing is you should be making him pay child support he help make that baby and he should also get to visit him and do things with him as well as long as he is not putting your child in danger..Mmost dads never try to be in the childs lives because the mothers and the courts make it hard for them to do and its unfair to the child..not saying your doing this but if you are one of those mothers stop and think about how you would feel or felt if your dad wasn't allowed in your life or just wasn't there..

Carla - posted on 11/12/2012

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wish these people who keep posting on here about the so called love potion would learn to use proper english and learn to spell...besides it has nothing to do with the questions being posted..

Wanda - posted on 11/12/2012

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I live in Indiana and I was once in the very same situation. I was married to the father of my first born son. I had left him and we were not divorced yet but, I was told by the police that if he came to get him there wouldn't be anything they could do until we got a court order stating that I had full custody . At the time I was able to get a restraining order that legally kept him away because he threatened to take him,. If you need to go to court and get papers stating that you have legal custody so he cannot take him from you. Good Luck. You also need to know that if you attempt to keep your son from his father it might come back on you when he is older wondering why you never let him see his dad. My husband blames his mom for many many years as he got older.

Betty - posted on 11/11/2012

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you have to get custody the dad could take the child if he wanted to and theres nothing you can do go to court

Mom - posted on 11/10/2012

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You should go to court and get full custody.If his father decided to take him and leave the state their is nothing you could do about it.I wouldn't take any chances on that happening. If you go to family court it shouldn't cost you anything.Does he have any visitation with him?

Leigh - posted on 11/09/2012

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Its not worth the stress to argue really. My mother told me that I didnt have to have children. I felt mad. I felt she was bad and anti-religious. Another thing people argue of. I was confused. Did she love me or not? Why would she say that? That was at age 18. Now at age 41, oh I see. Then again, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have learnt life. Did I need to? How many people do we all argue with in a week? Just do the best you can, fight for your own rights, and if you fail, its okay too, its all part of learning. Enjoy what is positive in your life, and make your time with your child enjoyable, and communicate to lawyers in the interest of the child and of your concerns, since the child is vulnerable and you and your partner are not. If you feel vulnerable by abuse, bullying, violence and attack, go into the police station, and say you want to talk to a community officer in regards to how you can deal with the situation-instead of laying complaint with them. The police are experts at councelling and behavioural matters. This is their job to learn themselves. I think they are better than councellors, although I shouldnt say. In life, we always get knocked down, it never stops, so we may as well not stress out too much each time, but rather crap is part of life.

Heather - posted on 11/08/2012

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It depends on the state you live in, but in most: Absent a court order, for a child born out of wedlock, custody falls with the mother. If he takes your son, it is a criminal offense "custodial interference". In my state, that is a misdemenor if the child is returned within 24 hours.

BUT be aware that if he chooses to sue for custody, he will have an equal shot of getting it. I was advised to seek full custody by my attorney through the courts, and I didnt. I figured that I already had custody through default and he could never prove I was unfit. My son was 4 yrs old also- he sued me for custody and won shared custody.

Leigh - posted on 11/07/2012

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People go to court for all kinds of reasons in relation to their children. When there is a breakup, some women take the man to court for nonpayment, arriving late, not arriving at all. Some cases are shortly over, and some continue on. It depends on peoples actions, and what angers people to what they want as justice. And what the Judge thinks is Justice.

Some people tell lies, making situations worse.

The court looks at the child as the families. No-one owns the child. The courts are similar to the weak League of Nations. Once a paper is awarded and stamped, it means nothing. Police, yes, overturn it and say, wait for court, and lawyers argue of police. This means, as with anything in life, nothing is guaranteed.

My lesson was to appreciate the here and now. I lived in fear, affecting my emotions, and stress, and anger of how a child can be treated in this society. What counts is always being a mother, and having precious times with your child, and being there in the best emotional state you can be in for them.

It will never be understood by men, how women treat children differently, and protect and nurture them. Most fathers seem to be boys, having tantrums, wanting parties.

Danielle - posted on 11/05/2012

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you have a good case cos your son lives with you and he don't pay maintenance but the only problem is if he is on the birth certificate he has parenteral rights. and there is no getting around them rights unless you give concrete evidence to a judge that this person is not a suitable factor as a father. i can tell you now how hard that is cos i'm doing it at min, my ex is a psychopath

Maria - posted on 11/02/2012

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In the meantime another mom (who is in a similar situation with a disappearing father to her baby) put this together for anyone interested. It's to help moms like us. Feel free to pay it forward: A petition to fight fatherlessness -- please sign and RT http://t.co/cvD0gx9S

Thank you.

Maria - posted on 11/02/2012

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Wow! That's fantastic! If both parents aren't active participants and actually plugged in to the child(ren) it's better that the ONE have all the legal rights. Good for you. Thanks for sharing!

Kelly - posted on 11/02/2012

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In my state, Wisconsin. The father has no rights to the child just because he is on the birth certificate, unless you were married at the time of birth. In order to get any rights he has to go through the courts. My son's father and I signed a paper to get his name on the birth certificate, after it was done i received a letter stating the father's name is now on the birth certificate but he does not have any rights to the child, it said all rights go to the mother unless there is a court order.

Maria - posted on 10/30/2012

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I would encourage you to get a court order for your own protection. Paralegals can draw up the documents for a fraction of the cost an attorney would charge. Having a court order that states you have full custody may save you heartache in the Future. When I divorced I had no money, no support nothing to help with attorney fees. All I wanted was full custody of our daughter. I was awarded full custody, as he was happy to move forward with his hot new girlfriend 11 years his junior. Several years later, they decided to marry and to show to the new family he was a stand up guy, he came after to try to fight custody and for visitation rights, where for years he couldn't give a shit about seeing his little toddler. We went through hell, were forced visitations and after a few years after the wedding, we can't even get the deadbeat to keep up on his support. In the meantime, he lives on 100 acres, bought a horse, donates money publicly to charities, while NOT paying child support. My story is reflected in this video I made to expose the truth. So, from my personal experience, if you want to protect yourself, even though it may appear now that there is no interest ... the future is elusive ... be prepared ... especially when it comes to your child. We are their voices!!!! I made this video of my story to share the truth as he has painted ME to be the psycho ex with the "hell hath no fury" mentality ... I have anger ... because his choices do not honor our child. Hope this has been helpful

Kellie - posted on 10/23/2012

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my ex was and still is married to someone else and i recently told him about her. now he wants to take me to court for 50 percent custody he lives in north dakota and i live in california i am the sole care taker of her and his name is not on the birth certificate. we just did a dna test to prove she is his do you think he can win cause i didnt tell him about her

Qui - posted on 10/21/2012

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His dad still has full rights to him. You need to go to court. You are basically the custodial parent, but if you ever wanted to have it to where he had NO rights, he would need to relinquish his rights.



Say for example, as you said, he is on the B.C and all...if you wanted to get your child a passport, he would have to come in and sign with you...if he refused, you would not be able to take your child out of the country.

Maria Belen - posted on 10/16/2012

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i think the father still has the right.thank him for taking his role as a father to your son.

and your son also need the right to grow knowing and having his father.

even though your relationship with your son's father didn't worked out,but i think he wants to have a good relation with your son.

i'm also a single mom.and i know how you feel.but worst part,as of now,he don't want to connect,even though i try some ways just to connect our baby to him.

but it's fine.i'm trying everything to support my baby.

maybe you can consult a lawyer.AGREEMENT between you and your son's father.sign it.

and if the father break it,then file for bridge of contract(joke).

hope this will help you!

more power to us, single moms!

Liz - posted on 10/16/2012

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You should be able to get him to just sign him over, If he wants to drag it through the court let him pay for it, if hes able to do that then he's able to financially care for his son.

Megan - posted on 10/16/2012

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My son's dad threatened to take my son from me when he was a baby. So i went and filed for child support and got custody of him. Now every other weekend he gets him and every other holiday. Now that may be what the court does first before he says he cant have anything to do with his child. My cousin went through something similar with her sons dad. She let him have him for the weekend and he wouldn't give him back to her. He told everyone that she came and left him with him. (which wasnt true) Now she gets him every other weekend and every other holiday when it should be the other way around. So in my opinion I would go through the whole court thing so you dont have to go through what she had to go through. I hope this was a little help on you. And if his dad doesnt bring him back on the day and at the time he is suppose to you can file that. Since you would be the custody parent of him..

Jas - posted on 10/16/2012

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sarah,



Get in there before he does, protect your child, your the mother, and you know better. I wish you all the best, My life is in hell at the moment, my ex wants custody of both my children. Seriously good luck.

Emma - posted on 10/15/2012

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Been through this, if nothign is established by court, he can come by tomorrow and take his son for as long as he wants, you need to go to court, get full custody established, the cours will favor in you. and thats it. its a pretty simple case, unless he decides he wants to start seeing him. in that case, file for child support, which you should do anyway! and get as much out of him as you can, but you can have your son in your custody ( full) and have child support, its law, unless your son has been ordered to you by the courts, he has just as many rights as you.

Andrea - posted on 10/15/2012

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Legally You Have To Go THrough Court. And I Will Tell You Here In Missouri, You Have To Be A Unfit Parent To Loose Custody THat you have. My Son Is 5 And His Father Moved Away 3 Years Ago To Florida, He Does Not Call, Nor Send Cards Or Gifts Nor Pays Childsupport, But the attorney That i spoke With ( 3 Diffrent Attorneys) Every Single One Of THem Gave Me The Same Answer I Wish You Luck In This Battle. You Can Feel Free To Email Me If You Would Like ~~ Andrea~~

Mischa - posted on 09/11/2012

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Because you have acknowledge, legally, that the father is the father- like as in a signed birth certificate. He absolutely have rights- even though he does not see your child. You are in a 'grey' area, really. If the father takes him without your consent, can you call the cops for kidnapping? No. But can you take the child back? yes. Look, go ahead and file for Sole Physical and legal custody, I dare him to fight it. Why? There is NOT a judge on this planet that would grant sole P&L to a father that does NOT have a current relationship with his son especially in the last year. Judges ALWAYS go in the best interest of the child- regardless of your marital status-especially since you are capable of supporting your child without additional money or aid. You may also petition for termination of parental rights. You do not need father's Signature for that- because you are going to claim "abandonment", in most statse the criteria is: absent for at least a year AND does not pay for the financial needs and upkeep of child. Usually, this process is done if there is a man, like a husband , that is willing to adopt. But in your case, it may be strongly considered. Judges do not take "deadbeat" kindly. So, it is unlikely he will even get joint since he has actively refused to be responsible for the child- which is exactly what joint custody means. You can file a motion for free if you have low income. Ask the clerk for those specifications. If you need help filling out the paperwork, speak to the court's Law Facilitator (free) and/or Legal Aid (free law clinic). Google that and see what you come up with. But my question to you is, why would you not go for child support? If visitation might be provoked by this- well- good news, you hold the cards on that one because he has to file with the court for visitation. DO NOT get custody, visitation and child support confused. This is commom to do-as people do not know that they are ALL seperate issues and dealt with individually. So, for example, if he pays child support, he does not get visitation and custody (even joint) automatically. So, call up DCSS (google it) and take a look into it. just consider this suggestion, ok?

Nishana - posted on 09/11/2012

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Depending on the state you live in...no one has custody until determined by the courts. You may want to check your states laws.

Komali - posted on 09/07/2012

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Reespected sir/madam,



i am komali gollapothu i have 3 years baby girl which she is with father , my husband is not giving my baby and playing games that from my side to get dioverce .......... plz how to get my baby fastly

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