In California, unmarried fathers do not have any inherent parental rights unless paternity has already been established. If the courts have not established paternity, all parental rights belong to the mother. This means that the more is the sole decision-making when it comes to any and all concerns of the children, including where they live, where they go to school, and who has the right to take care of them.
However, it is possible for unmarried fathers to establish paternity and get rights to their children. If you have questions about this process, get in contact with our firm today.
Can a Mother Refuse Visitation?
If there is no court order establishing custody or visitation, the mother has the right to refuse to allow the father to see the children in the event the parents are unmarried. This is because only the mother has parental rights, and it is the right of the parent to determine who is allowed to be around the child. If the mother is refusing to let you see the children, you will need to legally establish paternity and get a court order for visitation.
How Is Paternity Established?
Many unmarried fathers think that because they are named on the birth certificate, they have legally established paternity, but this is not the case. Children born during a marriage are automatically assumed to be the biological children of the father–unless there is a significant reason to believe otherwise–but this isn’t true with unmarried parents. To establish legal paternity, both parents need to sign a separate document called a declaration of parentage or have paternity established through a paternity test.
How Do I File for Custody or Visitation Rights?
If you want to pursue legal custody and/or visitation rights through the California courts, the first step should be to talk with a family law attorney. As an unmarried father, you will need to go through a specific process to establish paternity and seek custody, and this can be difficult if the mother is uncooperative. An attorney can help you better understand the process and what to expect and ensure you have someone dedicated to fighting for your rights.
How California deals with the parental rights of unmarried parents can be confusing, and you may get conflicting information from friends and family. This is why it’s important to get legal counsel from a qualified family law attorney who has experience with these types of cases and can provide you with accurate information. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case or get more information, call or contact our Los Angeles office.