Kansas Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents: Everything You Should Know

April 10, 2024

In Kansas, approximately 36.4% of children are born out of wedlock. Unfortunately, having a child without being married can cause legal issues when you desire to establish child custody. 

For those trying to establish legal paternity, child support, or custody arrangements, who were never married, consulting a knowledgeable Kansas child custody attorney can be crucial. 

A child custody law specialist can fight to protect your child’s support legal rights, do the legal legwork, help determine parentage, file a paternity action, make a fair parenting agreement, and offer legal counsel on what’s best for the child’s future.  Contact The Bright Family Law Center today for a free consultation.

Determining Child Custody for Unmarried Parents in Kansas

The Kansas court does not make custody distinctions based on the marital status of the parents. Kansas Family Court’s principal concerns are what is in the best interests of the child, the bond between child and parent, each parent’s capacity to meet the child’s needs, and the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community. For unmarried parents, it’s imperative to establish paternity before claiming custody rights.

Unmarried Custody Laws In Kansas

Whenever children are born to unmarried mothers, they are granted sole custodianship under Kansas Law. However, an unmarried father must establish paternity as the first step in making court orders for child support and parenting time. Kansas courts believe that the parent-child relationship with both mother and father is beneficial to the child’s welfare. 

Unmarried Parents’ Rights

Unmarried parents in Kansas are expected to provide the following to their child:

  • Financial support
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Emotional well-being 
  • Upbringing and childcare
  • Stable and loving environment
Photo of people sitting at the table and talking

Paternity Actions in Establishing Custody Rights

Paternity actions are legal steps or a court determination taken to establish the biological and legal father of a child. In Kansas, this can be initiated by all parties involved. Determining paternity is paramount for gaining custody and visitation rights for unmarried fathers. Clearing up paternity matters affirms a father’s rights, and gives access to family medical history, financial support, and the comprehensive guidance that comes with knowing both parents.

Kansas’s custody laws offer proper guidance on establishing paternity for unmarried parents in Kansas when the following apply:

  • A child is born to unmarried parents and the mother is seeking child support 
  • A child is born to unmarried parents and the state is seeking past due or current child support or reimbursement for medical bills
  • A child is born to unmarried parents and the father is seeking to prove he’s the biological father to establish parenting rights 

Kansas law legally obligates the care, shelter, and support of a child to its legal parents. For an unmarried mother, establishing paternity is necessary to order the other parent to participate in raising the child. Paternity may be established voluntarily or involuntarily. If you need assistance, sit down with a Kansas family law attorney because they serve clients and can answer questions in a custody consultation

Voluntary and Involuntary Paternity in Kansas

The Kansas Parentage Act governs establishing paternity to determine a child’s legal parents in Kansas.  Paternity may be voluntary if both parents agree on the biological father. This requires both parents to sign and file a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP)” form when the baby is born. Once this is completed, the name of the biological father will be added to the child’s birth certificate. 

Involuntary paternity establishes paternity through the judicial process and may be “forced,” through a court order.  The court may order genetic testing to confirm paternity in disputed cases. When paternity is unknown or denied, the court will order genetic testing. Typically, the first step for unmarried parents is to file a case under the Uniform Parentage Act. 

The Importance of Establishing Paternity

There are many benefits to paternity determination, including:

  • Establishing relationships with both parents
  • Access to family history and information
  • Access to medical insurance
  • Opportunities to learn medical history and health risks
  • Establishing rights to inherit the father’s estate
  • Ability to sue on behalf of the father in cases of wrongful death and more 
  • The mother can share parental responsibilities and custody with the father 
  • The father can establish a relationship with the child, participate in the child’s life, request custody or parenting time, and show how much they care for their child.

Once paternity is established, the parent-and-child relationship extends equally to every child and every parent. The legal obligations on the child’s behalf are extended to the other parent as well. 

What About Child Support and Custody?

Unmarried fathers have zero enforceable custody rights until they’ve established paternity. Once a successful paternity suit is made, a judge can decide on a custody schedule, whether joint custody is allowed, who has to pay child support, and how much that amount will be. They do this by considering factors such as your financial commitments and the child’s requirements. Legally, a portion of both parents’ income must be set aside for each child born.

Kansas child support obligations are calculated using the following: 

  • Both parents’ incomes
  • The needs of the child
  • The time each parent spends with the child. 

Custody arrangements can also influence tax benefits, including exemptions, child tax credits, and dependent care credits, which can be significant during tax season. If you’re the other parent and want access to the benefits of supporting your child, speak with a legal professional. 

Creating a Parenting Plan

A thorough parenting plan helps unmarried parents in Kansas share custody. The parenting plans detail daily routines, living arrangements, decision-making responsibilities, and how disputes will be resolved by considering the child’s age, needs, and the geographical location of each parent to minimize disruption in the child’s life.

The Importance of Legal Representation in Kansas

Unmarried custody cases in Kansas can be legally intricate. A knowledgeable family law attorney may prove invaluable because they will advocate for your rights, understand the laws that affect your custody case, and collaborate so that your custody arrangement serves the best interests of your child. Get in touch today for a free consultation.