Whether you divorced your wife, were a long-term partner, or you were in another relationship with a woman, if there is a child, you have rights as a father. Even if you are not biologically connected to the child but raised them as your own, you also have rights. That is true in California as well as in every other state across the nation.
If you wish to exercise those rights and want to be a part of the child’s life, you should persevere because both you and the child stand to benefit by being a part of each other’s lives. Under most circumstances, a child flourishes when they have two parents to depend on for all of their needs.
What is the definition of parentage?
Parentage is the “child’s legal parents.” It is also called “paternity” sometimes. Within that definition, there are different types of legal parents and even if you are not biologically tied to the child, you may still qualify as the child’s legal parent. The court will ask for anyone who qualifies as a legal parent to be identified.
In addition to the biological mother, the following people may also qualify as legal parents:
- Alleged parent
- Biological father
- Presumed parent
Your visitation rights and reunification services are dependent on which of the three groups you fit into. If you qualify to be a presumed parent, you have the most rights and if you qualify to be an alleged parent, you have the least amount of rights.
Let’s look at them in more detail:
- Alleged parent: The biological mother has declared that you are the father. You are also considered the alleged parent if you come to court and declare that you are the other parent of the child.
- Biological father: A DNA test proves that you are the father of the child or the family court has issued you a judgment of paternity. If you are the biological father, you will be notified about dependency hearings and will be allowed to prove that you are the presumed father. The court can also grant you reunification services if the court deems that it is in the child’s best interests. Your relatives may also be given special consideration if you are considered the biological father.
- Presumed parent: There are a few ways that you can qualify as the presumed parent:
- If your name is on the child’s birth certificate
- You have a family court order that states that you are the father of the child
- You have raised the child and have consistently behaved like the child’s father
Solid legal advice from a California family law attorney
If you are struggling with your ex-spouse regarding your paternal rights, the advice of an experienced California family law attorney may make a tremendous difference to your case. Family law is often complex and each decision that you make will not only affect you but will affect your entire family for a very long time. The right attorney can help you to protect your rights and your child’s rights and they can try to make sure that the outcome of your case is the best that it can be.