“Out of wedlock” is no longer “out of the ordinary”

By: Allison Schreiber Lee

“Out of wedlock.” What a strange term that is. To me, it brings back thoughts of years ago when having children outside of marriage was unusual and frowned upon (to say the least), and perhaps even hidden. But a new study has come out saying that 40% of US births now occur between partners who are unmarried. So what does that mean for family attorneys and what does that mean for your family?

Having a child when you are not married to the child’s other parent and are no longer in a relationship with him/her, brings up the same custody and support issues as you must deal with when parents are married and have a child. Can the parents make legal decisions (such as schooling and medical decisions) together? Do the parents communicate and cooperate well? How will the child divide their time between the parents? What holidays will be celebrated and with whom? Who will carry the child on his/her insurance? How will the parents divide uncovered medical or extracurricular costs? All of these issues need to be addressed between the parents and, to be enforceable, need to be entered as a judgment by the court.

I often advise parents that it is best to address these issues when they are getting along well, as emotions are often at a minimum and trust between the parties is high. Additionally, coming to an agreement with the other parent rather than litigating often saves time and money for all. However, when there are concerns about safety, substance abuse, mental health concerns, or other problems with the other parent, seeing an attorney to discuss options as soon as possible is imperative; without a court order delineating when the child is with each parent and who has the authority to act on behalf of a child, a parent is left with few enforceable options.

For this or any other family law issue, please contact one of the family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.

Disclaimer

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee is a seasoned trial attorney and has been lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials. In 2011, Ms. Schreiber Lee was co-lead counsel in one of the longest jury trials in the history of the City of St. Louis. Ms. Lee has also tried more than 100 non-jury trials to verdict, including representation in divorce and modification hearings.