Families exist in all shapes and sizes, and it is not uncommon for family
structures to include divorced or unwed parents. Because California recognizes
that non-traditional families exist is many forms, state law provides
fathers with certain
child custody and visitation rights. After all, fathers play an important role in the lives of their
children. Family courts want to ensure that children have the opportunity
to have productive and enriching relationships with their dads.
Unfortunately, social traditions and stereotypes have produced a great
deal of misinformation when it comes to the rights of fathers navigating
family law proceedings, especially proceedings involving custody and parenting
time. At The Buncher Law Corporation, our Orange County attorneys help
fathers protect their rights in all types of family law proceedings. In
addition to providing the counsel and representation fathers need to navigate
the legal process and pursue positive outcomes, we also work diligently
to educate them about their rights.
If you are looking to exercise your rights as a father in California, here
are few things you should know:
Family courts value father-child relationships – Studies have made it clear that fathers play an instrumental role
in shaping the lives of their children. As such, California family law
judges recognize the value of positive father-child relationships. Despite
what some misinformation may lead one to believe, there is no bias in
the law against fathers who demonstrate the intent and ability to maintain
positive relationships with their children.
Establishing parentage – Biological parents have a right to seek custody and visitation
of their children, but these rights are not automatically granted simply
because you say you are the father. In the event that parents were not
married when a child was born, a father will need to establish
parentage in order to assert his rights as a biological parent. Parentage can be
established through DNA testing, consent, and other methods. Without establishing
parentage, unwed fathers may have no legal standing when it comes to their child.
Legal custody – Fathers who have established parentage have the right to seek legal
custody of their children. Legal custody allows fathers to participate
in major life decisions involving their children, including decisions
about education and health care, counseling, psychotherapy, and more.
Physical custody – There is no bias in the law when it comes to fathers or mothers
seeking parenting time. In fact, courts want fathers to have continuing
and frequent contact with their children. They also want parents to work
out custody arrangements or schedules that are in the best interests of
the children, and which maximize parenting time for both parents.
Child support – Both fathers and mothers have a duty to support their children
financially. Support is determined by a uniform calculation that is standard
to California family law cases. Calculating child support can be very
complex, and it requires a thorough review of many factors, including
a parent’s income, pre-existing financial obligations, and percentage
of time they spend with their children.
Have questions about family law and your rights as a father? Speak with
an Orange County family law attorney at The Buncher Law Corporation during
an initial consultation.