The paternity form at the hospital ensures support but what about custody? Are you aware of the lack of legal parenting time and child custody rights of an unmarried father in California?
When a married couple have a child California presumes the husband to be the father of the child. This provides important legal rights including physical and legal custody. When a child is born to an unmarried couple, the father must legally assert his right of “Paternity” in California. There is a form in the hospital, and if both parties sign it the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate. It also opens the door to child support for the father.
What this form and even having the father’s name on the birth certificate of the child does not accomplish is an order from the court establishing the father’s legal rights of “paternity.” Why is this important? The form allows California’s Department of Child Support Services to pursue support and healthcare coverage for the child. However, according to California law all physical and legal custody of the child remains with the mother.
This means the unmarried mother of a child has all of the legal authority regarding visitation (or not) with the child as well as important decisions regarding the child’s health, education and religious upbringing. This also means she can refuse access to the child to the father, or take the child and move across the country or out of the United States altogether without the consent of the child’s father.
Child custody is associated with the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, health and well-being. Physical child custody concerns the legal right to have the child live or share living time in one’s residence.
In order to protect his legal rights of paternity, the unmarried father of the child must seek orders from our local family law courts concerning custody and parenting time. The experienced Carlsbad Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq have decades of experience here in North County. We work with an unwed father to establish his legal rights to participate in the child’s life as well important decisions.
The paternity form at the hospital ensures support, but what about the opportunity to see your own child as a father? Parenting time used to be called “visitation” and relates to the time one is able to spend with their child after a divorce or in the case of unwed parents.
Without a valid paternity action, the unwed mother of a child can deny access to the child, make all decisions regarding the child’s life and relocate whenever she pleases and there is nothing the unmarried father can legally do about it.
When Burke & Domercq attorneys help clients to establish legal paternity, we establish a legal relationship between father and child providing important protections going forward. This not only ensures custody and parenting time with your child, but the ability of your child to inherit and receive important government benefits.