Child Wrongful Death Cases And Divorced Parents: Who Can File?

Posted on: 12 February 2019

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is the legal right of any parent who has lost their child due to the negligence of someone else. However, it would be unfair not to mention that the already complicated process only becomes more complex when the parents who file a suit are not married. It's important all parties involved in the process know what's ahead.

Individual Suits

Filing individual lawsuits is somewhat of a first come, first serve race. While it's legal for each parent to submit their own suit, this action can actually slow the process down. Instead of a single legal team investigating and preparing the case, you will have two separate teams trying to access the same information and complete the same processes at the same time, which can cause a delay in both cases. 

The decision to file separately or jointly should be made on an individual basis, but filing together might help you resolve the matter faster, even though you are not married. 

Custody Agreements

Another complexity that can affect unmarried parents who file wrongful death lawsuits is a custody agreement. Consider an instance when one parent has full custody, and the other parent has no custodial rights, for example. 

In many instances, the parent who does not have any custody rights cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit without the parent who does have the legal rights, especially if the parent did not play an active role in the child's life or pay child support. However, the parent with the custody can file a suit with or without the consent of the other parent. 

Non-Biological Parents

Keep in mind that wrongful death cases for unmarried parents don't just involve biological parents. A step parent can also play a role in the matter, even if they did not formally adopt the child during their marriage to the biological parent. 

Typically, if the non-biological parent at all contributed to the care of the child over a period, they might have a legal right to also file a claim against a wrongful death case and receive some level of compensation. The state laws regarding this matter do vary, so it's important to consider your local laws. 

It's crucial to have wrongful death attorney services representing the parents in a wrongful death lawsuit. Given the severity of these cases, many organizations will do everything in their power to avoid a settlement. You need someone who is well versed with the law to ensure your rights are protected.