18 Dec A Father’s Rights When He Has a Child Born Out of Wedlock
Generally, a father’s rights are no different from a mother’s rights with respect to child custody and visitation in California after a separation or divorce. California Family courts make decisions based on the ‘best interests of the child.’ The gender of the parent in question and their marital status is not a factor in determining what rights the parent has unless it has an impact on the best interests of the child.
In theory, then, a father who has a child who is born to a woman with whom he is not married has no difference in rights to a man whose child was born to someone he is married to.
Many fathers are naturally concerned about their rights as fathers when they separate from the mother, and may believe, wrongly, that there is a bias towards the mother when it comes to child custody. In fact, the court will make a decision based on a number of factors which could have an impact on the future well being of the child.
If you, as a father, are at all worried about your rights as an unmarried person,you should talk to an experienced family law attorney before taking any legal action. The circumstances that parents find themselves in when a decision to separate arises are so varied that there is no one size fits all determination that can be used to advise a father of the best course of action to take.
When the father has not had an enduring relationship with the mother
It is not uncommon for a pregnancy to arise from a brief relationship, even a ‘one night stand.’ It is perfectly natural for the biological father to feel strongly about raising the baby once born and caring for it, but this may be precluded if there is no continuance of the relationship and the mother refuses or objects to the father having anything to do with the child once born. This is just the situation in which legal help from a family law attorney would be most advisable.
The attorney, after consideration of the circumstances, may advise filing for parentage. This is an action taken in the Family Law court which aims to establish parenting rights for the father (in this case). It is important to take this route as soon as possible if there is any serious objection by the mother to the father having any opportunity to bond with the baby and take part in caring for it. This can be a delicate task as there is the risk that the mother and her family could be seriously alienated if there is any open conflict over the father’s rights. If a parent age action is taken, it may give the father immediate rights to custody and visitation rights which will allow the father the opportunity to bond with the newborn.
The father’s rights after a longer relationship
Children born out of wedlock are a common phenomenon. Many couples choose not to formally marry for different reasons and if a child is born, then the rights of both father and mother are treated equally under California law. The fact that the two parents have known each other for some time and had a mutual relationship increases the chances of them coming to an amicable agreement about child custody and visitation if they decide to separate. Coming to a mutual agreement is far more preferable than having to take the matter to court,especially because the likely antagonism between the two parents could have an impact psychologically on the joint child(ren).
If the two parents cannot come to a mutual agreement, then they can seek the help of the Family Law court. Generally, the court prefers the couple to seek mediation with a family law counselor first before it intervenes. The court will only intervene and make a decision if mediation breaks down.
The Family Law court will ultimately make a decision about who looks after the child, how custody might be shared, what visitation rights will be allowed and what financial support should be provided after taking into consideration a number of factors that collectively affect the child’s best interests.
For any family law questions and advice contact the Law Offices of Damian Nolan in Orange County, California at 562-634-1115.