Children in California are born into many different types of families and different family dynamics. Some may be an only child and others may have multiple siblings. Some also may be part of a blended family. Also, some children have parents who are married while others may have parents that are not married to each other. Whether children’s parents are married or not, it does not make them less of parents, but under the law it does matter.
The mother of the child automatically has all legal rights to their children, but fathers only have legal rights in certain situations. One is if the father is married to the mother of the child at the time of conception. Another is if the parents signed a declaration of parentage. If an unwed father has not signed a declaration of parentage, then he must establish paternity in order to become the legal father of the child.
Importance of establishing paternity
This may not seem like a major distinction especially if the father has been in the child’s life for a while. However, without paternity the father does not have a right to seek custody or visitation with the child. This means that they have no legal rights to make decisions for their child or even see them. Once paternity is established though they can seek these legal rights for the child and once they are given them by a judge, they cannot be easily taken away.
There are many unwed fathers in California. This does not make them any less of a father and they have a right to be part of their children’s upbringing. However, before they have the legal right to be a part of the upbringing paternity must be established to ensure that they are in fact the father of the child. This is an important process for fathers and consulting with experienced attorneys could be beneficial.