This article explains when you should have a custody order. The term "custody" is no longer used in the law. The new term is "parental responsibilities." The term "custody" is used here because it is still a common term.
If there are no court orders that give you custody for your child, the following explains your situation:
- You are married or in a civil union: Both parents have equal custody. You do not have to let your spouse visit with the child, but you cannot keep the child's location from your spouse for more than 15 days.
- You and the other parent were never married: Only the natural mother has custody, unless the child has lived with the other parent for 6 months or more.
- There is a child support order: The parent receiving support gets custody.
You do not need to have a court order if you are the natural mother, or if you get along with the other parent. But without an order, it may be hard to get the courts or police to help you if you have a problem with the other parent. A court order will protect each parent's rights. It will also allow you to make the other parent follow the rules about custody.
Updated: March 2017