What are an unmarriedmother’s rights regarding guardianship of her child in the event of her death?

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What are an unmarriedmother’s rights regarding guardianship of her child in the event of her death?

I’m pregnant and unmarried but have established paternity through a prenatal paternity test. I want to create a Will in case something was to happen to me. I want to include who my child is to go to if something wereto happen to me. Legally, does the father get rights to the child or can I appoint my parents as the baby’s legal guardians? Also, as far as last names for the baby, is there any law that I have to give the baby their father’s last name?

Asked on September 27, 2011 under Family Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have not ever been married to the father of the child then you are considered the child's legal guardian absent a court order.  Now, if paternity has been established already I am assuming that you will be wishing to collect child support payments from the Father, correct?  Then visitiation may also be established at that time.  And if the Father chooses, maybe even custody (which is really likely at this point).  You can appoint your parents as legal guardians but the Father can indeed contest the appointment and request guardianship in the event something happens to you.  As for giving the baby his last name, probably not since you are not married but he may be able to contest that too.  Good luck. 


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