January 5, 2024, In Child Custody
This means unwed California fathers can establish visitation rights but must take specific legal steps. Here, our Los Angeles child custody attorney provides an overview of how an unwed father can do just that.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
If both parents agree that the man in question is, in fact, the father of their shared child(ren), they can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form. This form is typically available at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or can be obtained later. Once signed, it establishes legal paternity and allows the father to seek visitation rights.
Petition for Paternity and Visitation
If there is a dispute or if the mother is unwilling to acknowledge paternity voluntarily, the unwed father can file a petition with the court to establish paternity. This often involves genetic testing to confirm biological paternity.
Establishing Paternity Through the Court
The father can file a paternity action in family court, requesting the court to establish legal paternity. Once paternity is verified, the court can address issues such as custody and visitation.
Custody and Visitation Orders
Once paternity is established, the court can issue custody and visitation orders. These orders determine the legal and physical custody of the child and establish a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent, which may include the unwed father.
In some cases, parents may be able to negotiate a visitation agreement without going to court. This agreement should be in writing and signed by both parents. Even in such cases, it is advisable to have the agreement approved by the court to ensure enforceability.
Mediation services are available in California to help parents work out visitation and custody issues without going to court. Mediation can be a valuable tool for resolving disputes amicably.
Best Interest of the Child(ren)
The court considers the best interests of the child when making decisions about visitation. Factors like the child’s age, health, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment are considered.
Unwed fathers in California need to be proactive in establishing their legal rights, as visitation is not automatically granted without legal acknowledgment of paternity. To navigate the process and protect your rights as a father, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, by calling (310) 552-3505 to schedule a free consultation today.
We can help provide solutions that produce results.