Legal Issues for Family Child Care Providers – Custody Issues in a Child Care Setting

Question:

A mother enrolled her child in my child care program and identified a father on the emergency form, but I know they are not married. She wants to take his name off the form now. Will that take away his right to pick up the child?

Answer:

If they were married when the child was born, or if the father established paternity or otherwise established a formal legal relationship to the child (e.g. adoption), then they share custody, and either parent could pick up the child. This would be true unless a court order or other legal document says otherwise.

This continues to be true even if the parents don’t get along, even if the mother says otherwise, and whether or not the father is identified on the emergency form. Both parents can enroll/dis-enroll, both can pick-up, and both can authorize (or prevent) others to pick-up.

However, if the father never established paternity or any other legal relationship to the child, and the parents were not married when the child was born, then the only person with custody rights is the mother. In that case, the father’s right to pick up the child is subject to the mother’s authorization, and if she removes his name from the form, he cannot pick up the child.

To learn more, our Know the Law publication on who may pick up a child from care offers more information on the custody rights of an unmarried father.

Legal Disclaimer

This question and answer is intended to provide general information about the topic covered. It is made available with the understanding that the Child Care Law Center is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice. We believe it is current as of October 2014 but the law changes often. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney who can specifically advise or represent you.