Hi Jessica, I'm a single mom of a year old baby girl. Her father and I were never married and have been split since before she was born. He is however on the birth certificate and loves her very much. We do the best we can right now with making equal time with her. My question is, is it possible for me to obtain full custody of my daughter? I have no intentions of taking her away from her father, but to protect myself in the future, I'd like to know what my rights are. I'm not originally from Reno and don't see myself always living here, so what rights do I have as an unwed mother to move out of state with her? When she starts school and I am living elsewhere, maybe, how does the court decide custody in those situations. Though I am more financially stable and have a career that provides for majority of the baby expenses, like I said her father tries and is good intended as a father. I would just like to know that if it came down to it, I would hopefully have primary custody of her and can still live how I want to in regards to moving or sharing custody. Lastly, is it suggested we go to court? And from what I've read, NV favors joint custody, so is it impossible for me to obtain joint custody to ensure a stable environment for our daughter? Thanks again, I look forward to your advice Naomi
First, I think it is great that you and your daughter's father are able to co-parent. Good for you.
At this time, without a custody order, you are technically the primary custodian as the mother of a child born out of wedlock, so you could change your parenting schedule. However, all Dad has to do is file a Petition to Establish Custody and show that the status quo has been joint physical custody since birth and the court would likely award equal parenting time.
Your potential move out of state is a different issue. Technically, right now, you can move with the child without court or Dad's express permission (this assumes that you have no custody order-VERY IMPORTANT). However, if you move, all Dad has to do is file a Petition to Establish Custody. Since Nevada is your daughter's legal "home state", the Nevada court would likely make you return to Nevada with the child and a future move is in jeopardy by what will likely be characterized as "absconding" with the child to another state.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your daughter is continue to share joint custody, assuming this is in the child's best interests. I would suggest that you do this formally through the courts so that you guys have a custody order to guide you. Keep very accurate records of who had her when and who does the day to day parenting (i.e. doctors appts, school, dentist appts., play dates, etc.). If there comes a time when you have a good opportunity and want to move out of state, first you will ask his permission. If he says no, then you file a petition to relocate and petition to modify custody. It is always an uphill battle to move when you have two active parents but try to remember that it is better for your daughter to have a meaningful relationship and bond with both parents. It is difficult to do when one parent lives out of state.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for listening.