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The Twists and Turns of Unmarried Parents

June 19, 2012
Today, nearly 4 of 10 children are born to unmarried parents. The increase in such pregnancies is not due to a rise in teen pregnancy, but a rise in pregnancies to unmarried mothers aged 20-35. Such situations create a wide range of custodial issues including paternity, custodial rights for fathers, child support for mothers and children, adoptions, artificial insemination, gay parentage issues and grandparent's rights.

Issues between the parents themselves are often creating some of the most contentious custodial actions seen by courts. Even if the parents have lived together, unmarried parent relationships have high dissolution rates, creating anger and distress for parents, and uncomfortable scenarios for children.

Issues are also created if one or more of the child's parents determine that they are not interested in being a parent. Termination of rights, parental surrender, and adoption are raised when one or more of the unmarried parents determine that they do not want to participate in parenting their child. Grandparent rights are also affected when grandparents step in for the parents to parent their grandchildren.

When parents cannot conceive, or decide that though unmarried, they wish to have a biological child, still other issues are raised such as artificial insemination, sperm donation and surrogate parentage.

Anyone affected by the birth of a child to unmarried parents should contact a family law attorney. Recent changes to Georgia law, as well as the absence of Georgia law in many instances affecting unmarried parents make it imperative for parents and other affected parties to contact counsel to obtain a full understanding of their rights and responsibilities.

Karen has an MBA from Boston College and received her law degree from Emory. She has an office in Alpharetta and has practiced family law since 1994. She is a Guardian Ad Litem and active Foster Care Advocate with area courts and is also on the Family Law Executive Committee for the State Bar of Georgia. She frequently speaks state wide on family law issues and can be contacted at 770-952-5000.
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