The trend of first-time mothers having children while unmarried is on the rise in America, and there are societal issues and problems that may occur as a result. However, unmarried couples who have children are still entitled to legal protections as parents.
According to a recent article, women have been redefining the definition of marriage for some time now, based on the fact that a number of women become mothers before marrying. It is no longer taboo to be an unmarried woman and have a child. However, there are studies that suggest that households with only one parent have different and possibly more difficult challenges than households in which both parents are present. For instance, a study showed that children of unmarried couples are more likely to see a parent leave the home while still at a young age.
Legally, unmarried couples who have children have the same parental rights to their children as married couples. In Michigan, as well as in other states, whether married or not the biological parents have rights and marriage does not change that. When it comes to things such as child custody, child visitation, child support and the like, the courts will use the same criteria it uses for married couples. The courts will utilize the best interest of the child standard to make a determination on these matters.
Because these parental rights exist for unmarried couples as well as married couples, it can be easy to equate the situations and therefore arrive at similar legal conclusions, regardless of the marital status of the couple. However, reaching an agreement on what is best for the children is usually the ultimate goal.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “Brian Dickerson: Look who’s redefining marriage now (not same-sex couples),” Brian Dickerson, March 31, 2013