So by now, if you have read much of the information on this site you know that it is my opinion that single mother custody rights do not differ much from single father custody rights.
The fact is, nowadays the courts look at custody rights from a parental level which includes both mothers and fathers. That being said, there are important points to be covered. If you are a single mother and want to understand your rights this article is a good starting point.
As a single mother, you have a paramount responsibility. You are the most important person in your child(ren)’s life. This is not a responsibility to take lightly, but, it’s also an amazing honor. You are literally shaping a young life into what that person will grow up to be. How awesome is that?
So, when it comes to your rights, it is very important to think about what is best for your child(ren). Often times we think of rights as they relate to the adversarial relationship we have with the other parent. This can be self destructive but more so, it can be harmful to the child(ren).
Although it is sometimes unavoidable to have an adversarial relationship with the other parent, it is up to both parents to work to make sure that the issues they have with each other do not carry over to the child(ren) or have a negative impact on them.
Although we have really started to see a major change in how the courts view mothers and fathers and their role in the child(ren)’s life, it is still very common for the mother to have majority time sharing. When this is the case, many courts still grant shared rights and responsibilities to both parents which then requires them to make major decisions regarding the child(ren) together.
This can sometimes be problematic for parents who have not resolved the issues they have with each other because it makes it more difficult to make joint parenting decisions when there is still a poor relationship between the two parents.
I cannot stress enough that if at all possible, it is really necessary to set those differences aside at least enough to be able to effectively co-parent. The benefits to your child(ren) will far outweigh the discomfort of working with the other parent.
Of course, it is always important to point out that when recommending working with the other parent that it is assumed that it is safe to do so. If you are in a situation where you have any concerns of violence, abuse or harassment from the other parent toward you or the child(ren) then of course you should never place your self in that situation. One right you definitely have is to be free from fear of any harm of any sort. Your safety and your child(ren)’s safety is always of top priority.
One situation I have seen quite often is when one parent or the other just automatically assumes that they are in charge or that they’re the one that is ultimately responsible for making the decisions for their child(ren). This sometimes is a result of having been the primary caretaker while the parent’s were together.
It is extremely important not to make this mistake. I have seen many single parents end up in trouble because of incorrect assumptions about parental rights and responsibilities.
It is certainly a fact that maternity does not need to be established the way that paternity does. Obviously there’s no question that you are the mother of your child, but in many states, unless you were married to the other parent, the court must establish paternity through a defined legal process. Because of this, many mothers assume that they automatically have all the control when it comes to the children.
I implore you not to make that assumption though because as I stated previously, I have seen this way of thinking have very adverse consequences when a case ends up in court. Whether it is fair or not, courts and judges can be punitive in their rulings and if they feel you have not been doing what you should have, they may penalize you for it.
It is extremely important that you follow the laws of your state when deciding how to proceed as a single parent. In some cases, you and the other parent will be able to make all decisions together without needing to involve the court or have a judge make parenting decisions for you. If so, that is great. It certainly makes things much easier for all involved.
If you are unable to make key parenting decisions with the other parent, make sure that you get all details regarding parental rights and responsibilities worked out and documented so there is no confusion later on. I realize this can be quite expensive, but it is so important to know with certainty what your rights and responsibilities are, as well as that of the other parent.
Making good decisions now about getting your roles defined and determined will make things much easier in the years ahead. And remember, short of there being an issue of violence, abuse, neglect, etc., it is extremely beneficial for your child(ren) to have an ongoing, strong relationship with both parents.
If you have any questions at all regarding your custody rights as a single mother, please reach out to a qualified, experienced attorney. There are several links on this site that will take you to a very reputable legal forum where you can ask questions and get answers from real attorneys at no cost to you. This is always an excellent starting point and will often get you started on the path you need to be on to get your legal custody issues resolved in the most favorable manner.
This is just a brief explanation of general custody rights and the importance of how to proceed in getting rights defined and established. As with all information on this site, none of the information in this article is intended to be considered legal advice. There are resources on this site that will get you to where you need to be to get any sort of legal answers to your questions from a qualified attorney.
There are also other articles on this site that explain in greater detail where you can go to find the legal resources you need to be well prepared for any legal custody issues you may be facing. Please utilize them. They will be invaluable to you now and in the future when it comes to deciding how to best proceed with your current situation.