13 Aug Dads and Their Kids After a Divorce
Divorces and separations can be messy, stressful and emotionally draining. The longer a couple have been together and the more kids they have, the harder it can be to sort out all the issues involving commonly owned assets, the family home, child custody and support.
In Californian law, both parents have an equal responsibility to care for their dependent children and equal custody and visitation rights. The best solution for couples separating is for the two adults to come to an amicable agreement over how to divide property and other assets and who should be the primary caregiver, what the level of financial support should be post-separation and what should be the agreed rules for visitation.
However, in many cases, the inability of the two parents to make important decisions without arguing and disagreeing means that the Family Court has to make decisions instead.
Although both the mother and father theoretically have equal rights in law, the Family Court will make decisions about child custody, visitation rights and the level of spousal support and child support based on what is in the best interests of the children.
There is a perception in the community that is a hangover from the past that the relationship between the mother and her children is more important than the relationship between the father and his children. This idea has been debunked and is no longer holding as much credence in California these days as it might have done in the twentieth century. It has been acknowledged that fathers are as important in their own way as mothers when it comes to measuring the importance of parent child relationships. This importance works both ways. Fathers gain from a continued positive and meaningful relationship with their children as much as their children gain from that relationship.
Fathers who are able to be affectionate and supportive have been shown time and time again to have a positive effect on the emotional and psychological well-being of their children. In fact, Fathers can be as effective as caregivers and disciplinarians as mothers.
Establishing paternity: Who is the Dad?
In most cases, the father will be the biological father when considering rights and responsibilities after a divorce, but this is not necessarily always the case. The state of California has two criteria used to establish paternity. If either of these criteria cannot be matched, there must be another method used to establish paternity.
The criteria are:
- The father is the husband of the mother at the time of the birth and who was considered to be the father at the time;
- The father is a male who has been living with the mother and children as a family and has shown a commitment to the children and acts like a father, even if he is not a biological parent.
A father may be established as the father of a child if a voluntary declaration of paternity has been signed by both unmarried parents at the medical facility where the birth takes place. The father’s name is then added to the birth certificate and the father will then have all the rights and responsibilities with respect to that child.
If there is legal doubt about the father’s identity, a paternity action can be taken. This can be brought by the mother, the person who considers he is the father or a government agency which provides child support to the mother or an adoption agency. The court may order genetic testing of the male to determine his relationship with the child. A refusal to agree to being tested may be used as evidence of such a relationship.
If you are a father, consider you are a father, or you are a mother wishing to establish paternity and are attempting to make suitable child support, custody and visitation arrangements you should contact the Law Office of Damian Nolan, Orange County Family Lawyer at 562-634-1115.