Child Custody Determination for Underage Parents

It’s no longer uncommon for teenagers or minors to become parents, leaving them to wonder about their parental rights. Underage parents have equal responsibility and parenting time as adult parents.

In most cases, the court determines custody of a minor’s child, the same way as children of parents over 18. However, the age and maturity of the parents may influence the court’s final decision.

If you’re a minor and you’re concerned about your child’s custody, you’re not alone. Several underage parents have questions on how their unique situation affects their child’s custody. However, through expert child custody lawyers in Media PA, teenage parents can get excellent legal help.

In this article, we’ll highlight some child custody information that may be useful to minor parents.

Establishing Paternity

Like any family lawsuit involving unmarried parents, an underage father will have to establish paternity before having any parental rights. It means that he can’t get parenting time or responsibility if the law doesn’t recognize him as the legal father.

The best way the father can establish paternity is at the child’s birth. He’ll have to sign the child’s birth certificate and a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP) form, with the mother. This method is called a voluntary determination of paternity. Otherwise, he can establish paternity through a court petition.

Who Gets Child Custody

Courts always grant custody using the best in of the child standard and other factors. The judge will determine if one or both parents have a level of responsibility that makes them fit to get custody. For instance, parents who are 16 or 17 can join the military, get a job, or file for emancipation. A judge may consider such parents as having a reasonable level of responsibility.

However, parents who are 13 or 14 are significantly younger and may need adults’ support in raising their child. In any case, the minor’s parents will play an informal role in their grandchild’s life, and a court may recognize this role. 

Finally, the judge might declare both parents unfit to raise the child. This declaration may not necessarily be due to age, as it can also happen in a case involving adult parents. In such a situation, the courts will consider alternatives such as awarding custody to grandparents.

The Role of Grandparents

Even in cases where grandparents don’t have official custody, they still play a vital role in raising their grandchildren. But when a court declares a grandparent as the child’s legal guardian, they may become officially responsible for the child. Most times, this arrangement is temporary until the parents attain maturity and assume responsibility for the child’s welfare.

Otherwise, grandparents can choose to adopt the grandchild and raise him or her till maturity. However, adoption means that the minor parents will permanently give up or terminate their parental rights over the child. If you’re a grandparent to a minor’s child and have questions regarding custody, contact child custody lawyers in Media, PA.


It’s important to note that underage parents have similar parental responsibilities as adult parents. However, due to age and maturity, there are many factors a court may consider in determining child custody. As a minor parent going through a custody issue, you might need legal help. It’s advisable to discuss with some of the best child custody lawyers in Media, PA.

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