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Custody question for unmarried couple, dad now in jail

Harrisburg, PA |

When a baby is born to an unmarried couple living together, is it automatic that the mom has full custody? If they break up a few months later, can she just up and move to a different state with the baby when no one has ever gone to court to establish any legal status? The guy is in jail for the next 1-2 years so he will not be able to file or pay child support.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

As of January 24, 2011, there are specific notice requirements she needs to follow in order to relocate with the child. Also, has paternity been established? You don't mention this in your question. I would schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that you leave no stone unturned. You will need to give the attorney as many facts as possible so that the attorney can give you a good, sound answer. Better to be safe than sorry. Although, if she wishes to relocate, it will probably be easier when father is in prison than when he is out, if he decides to challenge it.



Does she have to state where she is going? If she says she is going to california, and after a few weeks moves to vegas, does she have to let the dad in jail know of her every move?


There is an argument father can make the mother fled with the child to deny parental rights. Diluted some due to jail. If you file before you leave, obtain the permission of the court, you solidify your rights and create no opening for him.

I suggest you consult with a family law attorney in Harrisburg. Might as well ask for support, and then seek to amend once he is out of jail.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


It is not automatic that a mother is preferable custodian. In fact, the custody statute was clarified in 2011 to ensure the playing field is even for mothers and fathers. You should consult with and retain an attorney.