I previously blogged about Orders for Protection and divorce. My basic point was that when police advise people to “Get an OFP,” it’s usually because all they really want is a Court Order that they can enforce if called to the scene again. That is, NOT necessarily because the underlying facts truly warrant an OFP, or because seeking an OFP is the legally wise thing to do.
The same can hold true when police advise people to go to Court and get a custody order. But, it is important to know that custody laws apply differently to married and unmarried parents. If unmarried parents have a child, the law provides that the mother has default custody of the child unless and until the father petitions the Court for custody and/or parenting time rights. (Whether or not this law is truly constitutional is another issue). It is also important to know that if the parties signed a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) all that does is has the effect of “adjudicating” the legal father. A ROP by itself does not bestow any custody or parenting time rights on the father.
So, there is hardly ever any reason why an unmarried mother would need to go to Court and get a custody order. Absent a court order, the law already provides her with default custody. The police, however, are not necessarily well-versed on the nuances of custody law. All they really want is an Order they can enforce when called to intervene in a custody or parenting time dispute between two unmarried parents.
When an unmarried mother initiates a custody case, then, in many ways, she is doing the father a favor. She may think that she is providing the police with what they say that they need, but she is also giving the father a venue by which he can now seek custody or parenting time. Sometimes, the father never truly had any desire for custody or parenting time. But, now the mother has given him the chance to make his case. And all because the police told the mother to go to court and “get a court order.”
Before going to court, it is always wise to get advice from a lawyer. Do not get your legal advice from the police.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.