The Rights of Unmarried Fathers
Fathers enjoy a special bond with their children and unmarried fathers are not an exception to this rule. The laws of the United States recognize this and have formalized fathers’ rights – even in cases when the father of the child was not married to the mother.
Historically, unmarried fathers did not enjoy very many rights in comparison to fathers who were married to the mother of the child or unmarried mothers. Throughout the years this inequality in child custody law has been challenged – particularly in cases where the unmarried mother decides to give the child up for adoption.
In many cases the Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of the father. It has been established throughout recent years by the court that providing an unmarried father the opportunity to create a meaningful bond with their child may often be in the best interests of the child. According to California State Law, Family Code § 7611, a father is a natural parent if he is married to the child’s mother. An unmarried mother has the option to identify the “father” after the birth of a child. This particular practice has been in use since 1995. The father has 20 days from the date of the declaration to sign a paternity declaration order and forward it to the Child Services Support Department of California. Each parent will receive a copy.
At this point, the unmarried parents may need to have genetic testing completed. Once the paternity test establishes that the man designated is the child’s father, his rights as a father are enforced. The paternity declaration form includes signatures from both parents, the name of the child, and the child’s date of birth and is a voluntary declaration of paternity. It may be withdrawn by signing and submitting another form to the Child Support Department.
If you are interested in establishing father’s rights in California, get in touch with one of the experienced family law attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm. Acquiring fathers’ rights can be more complicated than it seems and it is extremely helpful to have experience on your side.
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