father and son fishing with an orange fishing net Children Born Outside of Marriage

Paternity, custody, support, and parenting time

In Massachusetts, without an agreement filed with the court and/or court order giving parents joint legal and physical custody or parenting time, or an Acknowledgement of Paternity, mothers of children born outside of marriage have full legal and physical custody. Fathers of such children must seek court assistance to establish custody and parenting time. Nussbaum Family Law LLC can help parents of children born “out of wedlock” navigate the court system to establish paternity and obtain orders regarding custody, parenting time, child support, and medical insurance.

A court may award parents joint custody if it finds that they have successfully exercised joint responsibility for the child and have the ability to communicate and plan with each other concerning the child’s best interests. Such a finding would be supported by one or more of the following circumstances:

  • the parents prepared together for the birth of the child;
  • the parents agreed on the items to be purchased before the birth;
  • the father was present during the birth;
  • the parents co-parented for a period after the child’s birth;
  • the parents took trips together; 
  • the father took an active role in parenting;
  • the father has been an integral part of the child’s life and development since birth;
  • the father provided child support and/or or other financial support for the mother and child voluntarily;
  • the parents agreed about where the child would live;
  • the parents formulated a visitation schedule; 
  • the parents modified a visitation schedule by agreement;
  • the parents have both participated in decisions concerning the child’s religion, medical care or education; 
  • the child has healthy relationships with both parents. 

Attorney Beth M. Nussbaum can help you evaluate the presence or absence of these circumstances in deciding whether it makes sense to enter an agreement, file, or oppose a petition seeking shared custody of a child born to unmarried parents.