In a divorce, separation, or ended relationship, children should always be the number one priority. You may feel completely overwhelmed and not know where to start—and this is where an experienced attorney can help.
Below are the steps to consider when ending a relationship with a child involved.
If a child’s parents were married at the time of birth, they are both considered to be the child’s legal parents. This means that both spouses are legally responsible for any children birthed during a marriage.
However, if a child is born out-of-wedlock, paternity must be legally established. This can be done in a variety of ways. A father can willingly file a declaration of paternity with a family law facilitator or at a designated location (the hospital where the baby is born before the birth certificate is filled out, a welfare office, the registrar of births, or a child support agency).
Another option is to petition for a biological paternity test. This must be done within two years of the child’s birth, or within two years of the legal father discovering that he may not be the biological father.
2. Custody and Support Plans
After the legal parents of the child have been determined, you will need a child custody and support plan. These will be court ordered or decided in mediation. Documenting and preserving a record of parental involvement can make this process much easier.
Both legal parents of the child will need to reach a plan to answer the following questions:
• Where will the child live?
• What type of visitation schedule will we follow?
• Who is responsible for making legal and medical decisions for the child?
• Which parent will pay child support? How much and with what frequency?
• Who will provide medical insurance for the child / how will uninsured medical expenses be divided?
If a person is determined to be a legal guardian of a child worthy of visitation rights, they also must support the child financially.
3. Communication & Civility
Although your relationship may be over, you will need to maintain contact with your ex-partner in order to coordinate issues related to your child. It’s important to maintain a healthy working relationship both for the comfort and health of the parents and the child. Our motto at Ricklin & Associates is to “make the kids the priority”—and we encourage you to adopt it as well.
If for any reason you have problems enforcing child custody or support plans with your partner, we are here for you and your children to ensure you get what you need. As soon as you know you will be having an out-of-wedlock birth or a separation, you will want to contact a qualified attorney to protect yourself and your child. Ricklin & Associates in Westlake Village is here to guide you through this process and answer your questions every step of the way.
Ricklin & Associates
2625 Townsgate Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361