If my son’s father’s name is on his birth certificate but we weren’t married when my son was born, does that mean I have sole custody?

I am in the military and I had my son in one state; we now live in another. My son hasn’t saw his father in about a year and his father has never provided for him. I currently do not have any contact information for his father and I just want to know if according to the law I have sole custody or do I have to have a court hearing with someone I don’t have a way of contacting?

Asked on October 12, 2011 under Family Law, Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you and the father are not and were never married and there is no court order for custody of the child, then generally speaking you as the mother of the child has legal custody of that child until a court says otherwise. In other words, the mother of a child born outside of marriage has sole legal custody of the child unless a court has issued an order giving someone else custody. You may want to consult with an attorney in your area on the matter to see abut establishing that right since the Father is listed on the birth certificate, although that may open a can of worms.  Good luck.

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