A recent family court outcome is being heralded as a victory for families who choose an alternative lifestyle. The case resulted in shared custody of a 10-year-old boy between a man and two women. For those in Louisiana who have crafted families that are unconventional, this case gives hope that courts are becoming more sensitive to the many different ways that families are constructed, and to the need for new approaches to recognition of parentage.
When two Louisiana parents share a child but are no longer romantically involved, there is usually an agreement in place that outlines the division of parenting time and responsibilities. Over time, that agreement might need to be modified if circumstances change or if the custody or visitation arrangement is not in the best interests of the shared child. An example is found in the case of a father who is seeking a greater degree of responsibility after his daughter gained notoriety after an appearance on a talk show.
Louisiana men are not always sure that they are the father of a child. Men request paternity tests to verify whether they fathered a woman's child. Sometimes those tests have surprising results.
Before medical testing, such as DNA testing, men relied almost exclusively on the mother of a child to tell them whether they were her baby's father. Even today, many unmarried men here in Louisiana believe that they are the fathers of children based on their trust in the mother. However, the question of paternity is not always an easy one, and if a man discovers that he might not be the father, he will need to take legal steps in order to have his name removed from the birth certificate if he is already identified as the biological father.
Many Louisiana parents realize at some point that their relationship is not going to last. Whether married or unmarried, when they go their separate ways, working out child custody and visitation issues become a priority. Each parent might believe that he or she knows what is best for the children, which could lead to a contentious court battle.
The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that about 40 percent of all births are to unmarried women in our country.