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Your Rights as an Unwed Father

Don’t let anyone tell you that marriage impacts your rights as a father. If you want to be involved in your child’s life, you can be, even if you barely have a relationship with the mother.

When you are a child’s legal father, you have all the same rights as any other parent. This is true whether you are the biological father, or you adopted.

However, you must take an extra step to ensure your fathers’ rights. You must establish paternity, which is the legal way of saying that you are recognized as the father.

When a woman has a baby, the law automatically assumes that she is the mother. This can even happen with surrogates. The father must make their parental rights official. Sometimes, this is as easy as signing a birth certificate. In other situations, you may need to take more steps.

Paternity protects your parental rights. No one can take them away from you, and they last for life. Courts can deem a parent “unfit” and limit their rights. If you care enough to be involved, however, this will probably never happen to you.

Here are some rights that all legal fathers possess, regardless of their marital status.

The Right to Pay Child Support

It’s easy to see child support as a problem. Realistically, it is an expense, and you could face legal trouble for failing to pay it.

However, we encourage you to think of child support as a way to be involved in your child’s wellbeing. In a world run by money, spending on the kids is a means of allowing them to survive.

Furthermore, a stubborn mother who wants you out of the kids’ lives cannot refuse your payments. She also cannot spend the money on herself.

The Right to Custody and Visitation

Courts can limit the amount of time you have with the kids, based on the children’s “best interests.” They also want to keep families together as much as they can, especially when the parents are a positive inclusion in the kids’ lives.

Once a parenting plan has been solidified, it cannot be blocked by the other parent. Any days that you have with the kids are in writing, along with times, pick-ups, drop-offs, and so on.

“Custody” means you have extended periods where you are the primary parent. The kids stay with you, and you are responsible for their welfare. Therefore, if you have the kids for only one weekend a month, you still share physical custody with the other parent.

“Visitation” is scheduled time with the kids. You can be alone with them, but you will be expected to bring them back by a certain time. Electronic visits are also available, and the court takes them as seriously as physical visits.

“Legal custody” is a form of decision-making power. It allows parents to make choices about education, healthcare, and other matters. Just like physical custody, parents can share legal custody, or it can all go to one person.

The Right to Share Your Benefits

Benefits that you can share with your immediate family include:

  • Healthcare
  • Certain Military Benefits
  • Inheritance. (Technically, you can include anyone in your will. If, however, you pass without a will, your children become automatic recipients of your estate.)

Our firm can help you establish paternity in California, and we can fight against any entity violating your fathers’ rights. If you need help, call us now at (916) 299-3936 or contact us online.