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Navigating the complexities of custody matters for unwed fathers

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2018 | Child Custody

Sometimes California fathers find it necessary to fight for their rightful role in the lives of their children. Biological parents have certain rights, including the right to have an active and strong relationship with their kids. If the law does not currently recognize you as the legal father, fighting for your parental rights can be complicated. 

If you are a father who is not married to the mother of your children and you are dealing with concerns over paternity, your right to parenting time or other factors related to the well-being of your kids, it may be necessary to explore how to legally establish paternity. Fathers have rights, and it may be necessary to seek help as you fight to protect yours.

The process of establishing paternity

If you were not married to the mother of your child at the time of his or her birth, the mother disputes your biological parentage or your name is not on the birth certificate for any other reason, it may be necessary to establish paternity. This involves much more than just declaring you are the father.

The courts do not assume your parentage as an unmarried father. You can seek to establish paternity in the following ways:

  • You and the mother of your child can sign a voluntary declaration of paternity.
  • You can file a request to get a court order to declare you as the father of your child.
  • In some cases, you may need to seek genetic testing in order to prove you are the parent.

There are many benefits to establishing paternity. Not only does this clearly define that you are the father, it allows you to start your pursuit of regular parenting time, either through a custody or visitation order. Children benefit when they can have a strong relationship with both parents, and seeking to establish paternity could be the first step in having this powerful connection with your child.

Your rights and your responsibilities

Paternity will give you the right to seek time with your kids, but it also obligates you to financially support your children. Biological parents are legally required to support their children until they reach a certain age.

You may find it beneficial to completely explore what establishing paternity could mean for you and your child. This can be a complex process, and when the potential of a strong relationship with your child is on the line, you should not navigate it alone. It may be helpful to seek advice and guidance with this endeavor.