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Unmarried Parental Rights Star in Nicolas Cage Lawsuit

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 30, 2009 11:50 AM

People Magazine reports that Nicolas Cage has another lawsuit on his hands. This one is filed by his ex-girlfriend Christina Fulton, who also happens to be the mother of his first child.

She is suing Nicolas Cage for fraud, breach of contract and blames the actors for her own financial debts which are estimated to be $1.2 million dollars. The lawsuit brings up the important question of unmarried parents and unmarried parental rights.

Nicolas Cage already has his hands full with his own lawsuit against his former business manager Samuel Levin.We blogged about this lawsuit and a countersuit filed by Mr. Cage's former manager here in Findlaw's Celebrity Justice Blog.

The mother of Mr. Cage's child, Ms. Fulton claims that Mr. Cage gave her an L.A. home in exchange for raising their son. She thought the home was in her name. It turns out that it was not. She was served with notice by Mr. Cage to get out within 60 days back in September.

She is also claiming that she ended up with credit card debt is is now over $1 million dollars because she thought that Mr. Cage was paying off the balance. Ms. Fulton claims that fraudulent charges were made by a staffer Mr. Cage hired on her behalf. She claims that Mr. Cage did not do an adequate background check on the staffer.

What are the rights for support by an unmarried mother?

Typically if a finding of paternity can be established, then a court can demand that the father pay some sort of child support. A lot of unwed mothers receive voluntary child support from the father of their children for years only to have the father cease paying the support. The only way to ensure that an unmarried father will continue to make child support payments is through a court order once paternity is established. 

In this case, if Ms. Fulton has a child support order, she can require that Mr. Cage continue to support their son Weston. A child support order requires payment even if the unmarried parent is filing for bankruptcy. Ms. Fulton's child support payments would actually gain top priority under the law. That means Mr. Cage's creditors have less priority than child support payments. If she does not have an order, she can get one if she can establish paternity.

Since they were never married, Ms. Fulton can not claim alimony (spousal support). Since it seems like Ms. Fulton claims that Mr. Cage agreed to give her the home in exchange for raising their son Weston, she can treat his actions of attempting to remove her from the home as a breach of contract. She can also claim a breach because the home was never in her name to begin with.

As for her credit card debt, that may be one tough sell unless the debt was related to the expenses of raising their son Weston.

Stay tuned to see what happens to Mr. Cage's legal battles.

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