FAQs on Parenting by Unmarried Couples

At The Law Office of J. Michael Clay, we understand that parenting as an unmarried couple comes with a set of unique challenges and legal questions. Here are some frequently asked questions our clients often have regarding their parenting rights and responsibilities.

Unmarried parents should list both their names on the child’s birth certificate to establish legal parenthood. For the father’s name addition, most states require an affidavit or acknowledgment of paternity. Both parents may also write, sign, and notarize a paternity statement. For further legitimacy, file it with your state’s Vital Statistics office. Consult the National Center for Health Statistics’ website for vital records contact information.

Are Children of Unmarried Parents Eligible for Government Benefits?

Yes, as long as the child’s legal paternity and birth certificate documentation are accurately established. This ensures the child’s eligibility for benefits such as Social Security survivorship and government pensions. Without the legal parent’s name on the birth certificate, obtaining benefits posthumously can be problematic.

What Surname Can the Child of Unmarried Parents Have?

Parents have the freedom to choose any last name for their child, whether it be one parent’s, both in a hyphenated form, an entirely new name, or a name decided later on. For amendments, the state’s Department of Vital Statistics can help facilitate this change.

Is Joint Adoption Possible for Unmarried Couples?

Joint adoption is feasible in many states, though discrimination against unmarried couples can occur. It’s advisable to seek guidance from a family lawyer to navigate adoption laws and demonstrate a stable home environment. Should separation occur, both parents may retain equal custody rights and child support responsibilities.

Can the New Partner of a Parent Adopt Their Child?

This situation involves a “second-parent adoption” and depends on several factors such as consent from the child’s legal parents or a court’s ruling on the noncustodial parent’s capacity. In certain states, these adoptions aren’t easily secured without marriage and require legal consultation.

Who Can Claim the Child as a Dependent for Tax Purposes?

Only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on tax returns. Typically, the parent with the higher income receives a larger tax benefit. Parents should agree in advance about dividing this benefit.

Can a Nonparent, Like a Live-In Partner, Make Decisions for the Child?

Nonparents may be restricted in activities such as signing school permission slips or making medical decisions unless legally recognized as the child’s guardian. Schools usually accept signatures from legal guardians only. Establishing emergency contact status and understanding school policies are also crucial.

Remember, the law surrounding unmarried parental rights can be complex and frequently changing. For personalized advice and a Free Consultation, please contact The Law Office of J. Michael Clay at 210-694-5205 to safeguard your rights as a parent.

Client Reviews

Mr. Clay exceeded my expectations. I was fighting for custody and child support with a bully of an ex. He was tough with the other lawyer and made sure that I was not taken advantage of. His knowledge and experience was very apparent. I highly recommend Mr. Clay to anyone needing legal aid.

K. Aleman

Absolute pro! If you need a Lawyer that truly understand law and can answer any question you present him with, Mr. Clay is your man! I am extremely happy to have him represent me! Picking a lawyer is like picking a real estate agent. So many, so it can be hard but let me tell you I am 100% happy...

P. Martinez

Mr Clay represented me during my divorce in 2011. He was absolutely incredible throughout the entire process. He is very reasonable and is hands down one of the best attorneys in San Antonio, Texas. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for an attorney!!!!!

B. Johnson

Contact Us We’re Here to Help You

Fill out the form or call us at 210-694-5205 to schedule your free consultation.

* Please refrain from divulging confidential, attorney-client protected information until The Law Office of J. Michael Clay can determine that doing so would not result in a conflict-of-interest between our firm and an existing or potential client.