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Custody and Financial Considerations for the Child When Mom and Dad Aren’t Married
Child custody is one of the most unpleasant events for everyone involved, including Mom, Dad, children and even grand parents. Emotions run very high in a custody case and often times, logic and what is in the best interest of the child are secondary to those emotions.
Child custody is even harder when Mom and Dad were only dating, had an unplanned encounter or even one night stand and now they have a child and are forced to deal with each other forever, although Mom and Dad are no longer dating.
Having a child with someone you were only dating or worse is difficult emotionally and financially. It is difficult financially because you are now responsible for child support and other costs of raising a child, something you were not counting on when you were hooking up or merely dating. It is difficult emotionally because you are now forced to deal with someone for the rest of your life whom you really don’t know and whom you probably don’t really like and probably never wanted a relationship.
The short answer to a child custody problem with someone you are dating is don’t have a child with them. However, if you are reading this article, that advice probably came too late. The longer answer is that you are now a parent and your focus needs to be your child and not the other parent. However, you need to deal with that parent civilly (if at all possible) for the sake of your child.
However, there should also be a custody order in place to state who has custody of the child, the terms of the custody, both physical and legal custody. Custody is always flexible and ever changing, especially as the child grows up and has ever changing schedules and interests. Again, the focus is the best interest of the child, not using the child to use as revenge against the other parent.
Although it sounds horrible and mean, parents will use the children or put the children in the middle, without any intent to do so, because they are upset with the other parent for any number of reasons.
Protecting Your Child's Future When Parents are not Married to Each Other
If you pass away, the other parent is the guardian of your child, unless otherwise provided otherwise in your Will and with very good reason that the other parent should not have custody.
Financially, to protect your child(ren)’s interest and financial future in cases where the parents were never married, you can set up a trust and name a trustee who is responsible with finances. Many times, the child’s guardian is the trustee, but a separate trustee can be names. The guardian has no control over the child’s inheritance and a trust would also protect the child from any creditors, if that becomes an issue.
Financial planning is even more important for a child when the child is born to parents who are not married.
If spouses cannot fairly divide the marital property, the court will divide it as fairly as possible. Marital fault is not a consideration in property division. In Pennsylvania, property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned regardless of title. The court considers the duration of the marriage, individual assets and potential for bringing in money, how much each contributed to the marital property, including homemaking, and who will have physical custody of the children.
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