FAQs For Unmarried Co-Parents

If you are co-parenting a child and not married to the other parent, there are unique issues that can arise. It is important for the physical and emotional welfare of the child that both of you work together to solve issues. To help you and the other parent stay on track, here are some situations to consider.

Who Claims the Child When Filing Taxes?

Both parents cannot claim the child as a dependent, even if you are co-parenting. There are several ways you and the other parent can handle tax time. For instance, you and the other parent can choose to alternate carrying the child as a dependent.

Another option is to allow the parent with the higher income to carry the child. The parent will get the bigger savings, and both parents can split the proceeds.

Regardless of which option you and the other parent choose, it is imperative that the agreement is placed in writing. A formal agreement that is filed with the court works to protect both of you in case there is a disagreement later regarding who should carry the child.

Can a Parent's New Partner Adopt the Child?

 A second-parent adoption of the child is allowed in certain circumstances. It is important to note that in order for the new partner to adopt the child, the other parent has to give up his or her parental rights. For instance, if your partner wants to adopt your child, his or her other parent has to agree to a termination of parental rights.

If the other parent is unwilling to give up his or her parental rights, you might have to go to court to have the other parent declared unfit. Whether or not the court agrees that the other parent is unfit is debatable.

Whose Last Name Is Given to the Child?

Legally, what you and the other parent choose to name the other child is strictly up to you. The child can receive a hyphenated version of both of your last names or just carry one name. You can even opt to give the child a different last name altogether. For instance, the child can have the last name Ashby, even though neither parent shares that name.

Consult with a family law attorney (such as one from Myers Law Firm LLC​) to get help with other issues that commonly occur in unmarried parental relationships. The attorney can help assess your situation and make recommendations on the easiest method for handling the problem.