Does Marriage Matter? Determining Out of Wedlock Child Custody

Are you and your partner unmarried parents who are considering a split? Perhaps you were never even in a relationship with your child’s mother or father, but you’d like to establish official child custody terms.

Whatever the situation, know that the paperwork for a divorce and a parenting plan don’t always go together. While every family situation is unique, determining child custody out of wedlock is more common than you might think — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t complicated.

Love and Marriage Don’t Always Go Together

According to the latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) data, 40.7 percent of all children in the U.S. are born to unwed mothers. That means almost half of all children will come from nontraditional homes. But what is a “nontraditional home” these days anyway? The statistics show that the nuclear America family is moving toward modern arrangements.

2012 census data supports the transition, as well. 17.8 percent of homes qualify as “other family households” or those with related individuals who are not married — this, compared to the 19.6 percent of households featuring married couples with children.

By contrast, in the 1970s, it was 10.6 versus 40.3 percent.

The subtle shift, which has been trending over the last few decades, designated a need for supportive legislation.

Child Custody Without Matrimony

While the 2008 Parenting Bill helped emphasize time-sharing or dual-parenting, some of the language surrounding who is a parent, according to the Florida state statutes, might be confusing to some.

Generally, a mother is considered to be the woman who birthed the child in question, regardless of her marital status at the time; when it comes to the father, in some cases, paternity may need to be established — in others it is assumed and he is considered the unmarried biological father or even the prospective father.

Regardless, once a father is nominated, custody is granted in the best interest of the child and determinations are often supported by the current parenting legislation.

Fighting for Your Familial Rights

You need a lawyer that understands the semantics of what a modern family is — especially in reference to the current laws. Whether you’re fighting for your rights as a father or you’re a mother trying to arrange a fair parenting plan, an experienced family law attorney will scrutinize the current statutes to find the best solution for your unique situation.

Ready to fight for the future of your family?  Contact Dean G. Tsourakis today to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer who knows the language of family law.


CDC/ Unmarried-Childbearing


Florida Bar

Dean Tsourakis / Child Custody Attorney