I am a single mother and have recently broken up with the father of my child, what are my legal rights? Do I get automatic custody of my child? Do I get automatic child support? Do I have to go to court to get this and do I need a lawyer?
Let certainly is a lot of questions, I will attempt to answer all of them. There are no such things as automatic legal rights and family law, in the context you’re speaking of. Both physical custody and legal custody, are two separate issues which both will be determined by Family Court. No parent, regardless of their sex has any automatic rights to legal or physical custody. Legal custody is your right as a parent to make decisions for your child thoughts such as health care decisions and where the child goes to school, etc. Physical custody is where the child lives and can be either joint custody or soul physical custody, meaning the child only lives with one parent and the other parent may or may not have visitation rights. There are many different circumstances which will be considered by the courts over the issue of physical custody, such as what is in the best interest of the child. Many times the mother is given physical custody, but this is not an automatic right to a female simply because she gave birth to the child, but the courts do favor physical custody being in that of the mother. This does not mean that her father cannot present evidence that would demonstrate that the child would be in a better set of circumstances with the father having physical custody, we have obtained physical custody for many of our mail clients, in situations where it was more beneficial to the child that they live with the father, instead of the mother. At the end of the day the courts will always consider what is in the best interest of the child, not what people feel is there automatic right. To enter your question about if you need to go to court, the answer is yes. The only way to deal with the situation, if you cannot arrive at an agreement with the other parent, would be to use the family court system. Technically you do not need a lawyer in Family Court, but if the other parent of the child has a lawyer in you do not, you simply are going to be losing almost every battle. There is no legal requirement for you have an attorney in court, but you will be expected to behave just as an attorney and know all the same rules. So the attorney knows a bunch of things that you do not know, which is most likely to be the case, the side with the attorney is almost always going to win, the court does not take into account that you’re not a lawyer, you must still behave as one if you choose to represent yourself. When anything is of importance, my advice is always to be to seek the advice of an experienced attorney in that matter. A little money now, will save you thousands in the long run.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723
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