The Custody of Kids When Not Married in Mississippi

By Beverly Bird

In most states, when an unmarried woman gives birth, she automatically and legally has sole custody of her child. Mississippi is no exception. When a married woman has a child, the state presumes that her husband is the father. In legal terms, “presumes” means that it is true until proved otherwise to a court's satisfaction. If the woman is not married, her child has no presumed father. Her child’s biological father therefore has no rights unless he takes steps to correct the situation.

In most states, when an unmarried woman gives birth, she automatically and legally has sole custody of her child. Mississippi is no exception. When a married woman has a child, the state presumes that her husband is the father. In legal terms, “presumes” means that it is true until proved otherwise to a court's satisfaction. If the woman is not married, her child has no presumed father. Her child’s biological father therefore has no rights unless he takes steps to correct the situation.

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity

Mississippi law requires medical professionals to offer parents the right to make a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity when babies are delivered to unmarried couples. However, the acknowledgment is not necessarily binding and it does not legally establish paternal rights for the unmarried father. Either parent has the right to rescind the acknowledgement for up to 60 days. Even after 60 days, either parent can withdraw the acknowledgment for good cause by petitioning the court. For example, a blood test might have shown that the man was not the baby's father after all.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Establishing Paternity Through the Court

Even if he acknowledges paternity, a father must also legally establish his paternity to have any chance of gaining custodial rights. In Mississippi, the first step of this process is filing a petition with the court, requesting a paternity test. The court will order the mother, the father and the child to appear at a lab facility approved by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. If the results indicate at least a 98 percent probability that the man is the child’s biological father, the law presumes paternity, just as it would if the mother had been married to him at the time she gave birth. The court will then issue an order legally establishing him as the child’s father.

Establishing Custody Terms

Legal establishment of paternity does not automatically award an unwed father custody; it only means that he’s in a position to ask the court for it. After a court legally acknowledges paternity, an unmarried father can file a second petition with the court, seeking custody. In reality, unless the mother is unfit in some respect, it’s highly unlikely that a court would remove the child from her care and give full legal and physical custody to the father. However, if she is unfit, the father has the option of proving it to the court, so he can get custody. If the mother is a good parent, he can at least get visitation and parenting time with the child incorporated into a custody order.

Necessity of Custody Order

An unmarried mother can also petition the court to ask for genetic testing if the father isn’t interested in establishing paternity. For example, she might want an order of child support. A positive paternity test does not mean she automatically gets child support; she would have to file a separate petition asking for it after custody is determined. However, she can’t get child support until paternity is proven.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Parental Custody Rights to a Newborn Child in Albuquerque, New Mexico

References

Related articles

How Does a Father Get Custody When the Mother Denies Paternity?

Disputes over custody can hit a snag when a child's mother denies that an estranged or ex-husband or lover is the biological father of the child. In those cases, you may have to file a paternity suit and undergo a DNA test to establish your claim to your child. When celebrity Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007, she was embroiled in a legal contest with her ex-lover, Larry Birkhead, over the paternity and custody of her daughter, Dannielynn. DNA tests showed that Birkhead was Dannielynn's biological father, and he gained full custody of her after Smith's sudden death.

Laws on False Paternity

DNA testing is increasingly common and accurate, increasing many people's awareness that the purported father of a child is not always the child's biological father. Legal paternity is the recognition by the government that a man is a child's father. False paternity occurs when a man is inaccurately represented as the child's father, which may be due to an inadvertent error or deliberate misrepresentation. Paternity laws are similar in each state, but each state has minor variations, so consult local laws before pursuing a paternity action.

The Surrendering of Parental Rights in Colorado

Before adoptive parents can adopt a baby or child, Colorado state laws generally require a surrender of parental rights by the birth parents. Colorado adoption laws include requirements for the surrender of parental rights through an adoption consent. The specific requirements can vary depending on the marital status of the birth parents.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Arizona State Laws: Title 13 Custody for Unwed Mothers

Arizona state law clearly outlines the requirements for parental custody. The legislature grants unwed mothers custody ...

Child Custody Rights for Mothers in California

Parents' custody rights vary from state to state. Historically, courts favored mothers when granting custody, but ...

Custody Laws for Underage Parents in Pennsylvania

In an effort to provide family court judges with clearer guidelines when making custody decisions, Pennsylvania made a ...

Tennessee Law for Granting Custody to People Who Are Not Married

Tennessee child custody statutes overwhelmingly support the mother in cases where the parents of a child are not ...

Browse by category