Unmarried couples often share many of the social benefits of being married; however, each individual doesn't have the legal benefits of being married. This is a difficult spot to be in. Fortunately, there are ways that unmarried couples can protect themselves.
We recently discussed some of the ways that unmarried couples can protect their finances. While these are important, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Unmarried couple who have children need to take certain steps to protect themselves when it comes to paternity and child custody.
If you aren't married to your partner and have a child together, you need to make sure that your child's paternity has been legally established. This is important because if you split up, your child needs to be able to continue to have a relationship with both parents. If paternity hasn't been established, the child's father might have to work to get this done after the split.
We know that you don't want to think about your relationship ending; however, taking the time to think about these things now might help you avoid a very difficult situation down the road. If you are the child's mother, establishing paternity now could help to speed up child support if your relationship crumbles. If you are the child's father, establishing paternity now could help you to be able to assert your rights as the child's father if you break up with the child's mother. This can also help if something happens and either parent passes away.
All unmarried couples need to sit down and take a look at their current situation. Try to determine if there are ways that each of you can protect yourselves now just in case something happens in the future.