4 ways to be a mother and 6 ways to be a father
Who is entitled to custody of a child? Of course, the easy answer is that the child’s mother and the child’s father are the two key contenders for the role. But how is the parent-child relationship “legally established” ?
You might be interested to know that there are actually four ways to be a mother and six ways to be a father, in order to qualify for custody of a child.
Under the Uniform Parentage Act, a woman can establish her legal right of maternity by (1) giving birth to the child; (2) winning an adjudication of maternity by a court of law; (3) adopting a child; or (4) obtaining a court order that confirms that she is the parent of a child born to another (gestational) mother under the agreement between them, provided that the agreement is valid under the law.
Under the same Act, a father can establish his legal right of paternity by (1) a presumption of paternity created by marriage (read more about this below); (2) by acknowledging his paternity in writing; (3) by a court order determining his paternity; (4) by adopting the child; (5) by consenting to the assisted reproduction by a woman which resulted in the birth of the child; and (6) by obtaining a court order that confirms that the man is the parent of a child born to a gestational mother under an agreement, provided that the agreement is valud under the law.
The Uniform Parentage Act was last amended in 2002. As a uniform act, it is a state law that is available to be adopted by each of the states — and thus creates a uniform system of law around the country. So far, only nine states have adopted the amended version of the law — Alabama, Delaware, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. However, the Act provides a valuable statement of the various ways to acquire paternity and maternity rights, in order to qualify for custody rights.
So, while one might think of a child custody case as involving only the biological parents of the child, it may, in fact, involve other contenders who the law recognizes as “mother” or “father” of the child in question.