What are the rights of unmarried fathers in California?

29 Oct What are the rights of unmarried fathers in California?

A father enjoys a special bond with his child. Unmarried fathers are no exception to that rule. U.S. law recognizes this and has formalized fathers’ rights, even if the man has fathered the child without being married to the mother. California is no exception to this rule.

Previously, unmarried fathers did not enjoy many rights compared to married couples or unwed mothers. However, over time, unmarried men have challenged this aspect of the law. It is particularly true in cases where an unwed mother has given up her child for adoption.

In several cases, the Supreme Court has affirmed fathers’ rights. The court has established that giving an unmarried man the opportunity to establish a bond with his child can often be in the best interests of the child.

In California, according to Family Code § 7611, a father is a natural parent if he is married to the child’s mother. An unmarried mother may identify the father after the child’s birth. This practice has been in existence since 1995. The father then needs to sign a paternity declaration order and forward this to the Child Services Support Department of California within 20 days of the declaration. A copy will be with each parent.

The unmarried mother and father may then have to go for genetic testing. Once the paternity test is establishes the man as the child’s father, father’s rights are enforced. The paternity declaration form has the signature of both parents, the child’s name and the date of birth. This voluntary declaration of paternity may also be withdrawn by signing another form with the Child Support Department.

Acquiring fathers’ rights can be more complicated than it seems. Therefore, if you are facing this issue, it may be in your best interest to consult an experienced California family law attorney.

Source: ChildWelfare.gov, “The Rights of Unmarried Fathers,” Accessed on Oct. 18, 2014

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