Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

There are many misconceptions that exist regarding a father’s rights and responsibilities for their child in the wake of a divorce or separation. However, despite these misconceptions, the law does not give weight to the gender of the parent when determining matters that arise during and after a divorce. Regardless of whether you were ever married to your child’s other parent, you have certain rights and responsibilities as a father that should never be infringed upon.

A divorce or separation can be a tumultuous and complicated experience. However, even though your relationship has come to an end, this should not impact your rights and responsibilities that you are fully entitled to under the law. If you are a father going through a divorce, consulting a dedicated Ventura County fathers’ rights lawyer could help you protect your best interests as a parent. An experienced family attorney could fight for you and your parental rights.

Gender Neutrality of the Law in Determining Custody

The state laws governing custody clarify that the court cannot consider gender when deciding on custody. Instead, when determining these issues, the court’s primary consideration must be the child’s best interests, according to California Family Code §3040. This law specifically states when determining the child’s best interest, the court must not consider the sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation of the parents. The court’s inability to consider gender when determining custody applies to physical and legal custody.

Rights of an Unmarried Father

Under California Family Code §7611, the law automatically presumes a father has parental rights over a child in the following instances:

  • The father was married to the mother at the time of conception or birth;
  • The father tried to marry the mother, even if the marriage was not a valid one, and the child was born or conceived during that time;
  • The father and mother married each other after the child’s birth, and the father’s name was on the birth certificate, or the father agreed to child support; or
  • The father openly holds out and accepts the child as if they were his own.

If the parents were not in a traditional marriage when the child is born, the father would need to establish his paternity rights. Paternity can be established if a voluntary declaration of parentage or paternity is signed or by obtaining a court order. Once the father is established as a child’s parent, he is entitled to all of a parent’s rights and responsibilities. In particular, the father can request custody or visitation and could be responsible for paying child support.

The Importance of Establishing Paternity for Fathers’ Rights

When parents are married at the time of the conception or birth of the child, the husband will be presumed to be the child’s parent. However, in other cases, paternity will need to be established by the law. When a father is trying to enforce his rights and if presumed paternity does not apply to him, it is important he legally establishes paternity in order to enforce the rights due to him as a father.

Once paternity is legally established by the father, the father will be entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as those of a father who was married to the mother. Some of these rights and responsibilities are:

  • The right to request custody rights of his child;
  • The right to request visitation rights to his child; and
  • The legal responsibility of financially supporting his child including paying for child support and healthcare costs that are not covered by insurance.
  • As the process for determining paternity can be complicated and with so much being at stake when paternity is not established, it is important to consult with an experienced Ventura County family lawyer to ensure to achieve the rights due as a father.

Contact a Ventura County Fathers’ Rights Attorney Today

Ending a relationship can be an exhausting and complicated process. Call a Ventura County father’s rights lawyer today to start your consultation on your rights and duties to steer the outcome of your divorce in the best way possible.

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