When you have children with someone, you are connected with them for at least the first eighteen years of your child’s life, regardless of your relationship with the other parent. Ideally, both parents will work together to ensure that their child’s needs are met, but a contentious relationship can present challenges for parents. During a divorce, there will be a child support and custody order put in place, but it can be less straightforward for unwed parents. The California Family Code outlines how parental relationships are legally created.
If you are not married to, or in a committed relationship with, your child’s other parent, it can be difficult to determine issues like custody and child support. You will have to legally determine the relationship between you and your child, establish parentage if necessary, and make sure that you understand your rights as a parent. The child custody attorneys at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you understand your rights as an unwed parent and ensure that they are respected.
Legally establishing a parental relationship is especially important when the parents are unmarried. It is important to know who will have custody of a child, which parent can make major decisions, and how child support will be divided, if necessary. According to California Family Code 7610, there are a few ways that the parental relationship can be established.
In the case of natural or biological parents who are not married, the mother is automatically given primary custody and decision-making power when their child is born. For a father to be given parental rights, such as custody and legal decision-making power, his paternity will have to be confirmed. Both parents can sign a Declaration of Paternity to establish parentage, or a paternity test can be completed to establish a natural father.
One other way for a paternal relationship to be established, according to California Family Code 7610, is through adoption. For the parental relationship between a child and their adoptive parent to be established, there must be proof of adoption. This method may be necessary for a non-biological parent who wishes to adopt their partner’s child from a previous relationship or for same-sex couples. Regardless of circumstances, once the proper parental relationships are established, agreements regarding custody, visitation, and child support can be created.
In California, it is expected that both parents will contribute to the support and well-being of their child, regardless of the relationship they share with each other. Parents who are divorced have a custody and child support order in place to determine how much time their child spends with each parent and what financial responsibility each parent has.
These orders are similar for unmarried parents, but only when parentage or paternity has been established. A mother who is not married to the father of her child, and has not established paternity, does not have to allow the father to see the child, but the father is also not required to provide support. Common custody orders for unmarried parents include:
A: When parents are not married in California, the mother is automatically given parental rights following the birth of a child. Unwed fathers do not receive parental rights automatically, so they will have to go through the process of establishing parentage. This can be accomplished through a Declaration of Paternity signed by both parents or by a court-ordered paternity test.
A: In the event that a child’s parents are not married when the child is born, the father will not be granted parental rights automatically. They will have to establish their parentage of the child either by voluntarily signing a Declaration of Paternity or undergoing a court-ordered paternity test. Once parentage is established, the unwed father will have parental rights as determined by the custody order that is put in place.
A: The rights of an unmarried parent in California will depend on their relationship with the child in question. A birth mother will have automatic parental rights, including the power to make decisions regarding things like medical care and major legal decisions, as soon as their child is born. A father or an adoptive parent will have to have their parentage established and verified in the courts before they can receive parental rights.
A: Parents who are not married in California will have to create an agreement for things like visitation and child support the same way that divorced parents do. One major difference for unwed parents, however, is that parentage must be established for the non-birthing parent before the agreement can be reached. This can be done by determining paternity or through adoption.
If you have a child with someone you are not married to, or do not have a romantic relationship with, it can be difficult to know how things like custody, legal decision-making, and child support will be established. You will also have to deal with the processes of finalizing an adoption or establishing parentage, depending on your circumstances. An experienced child custody attorney from Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can make the process easier. Contact our office today for assistance.
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