What Rights Do Unmarried Parents Have?

More and more couples are holding off on, or completely forgoing, marriage. However, these same couples might still decide to have a child together in the meantime. While the practice has become more socially acceptable, it can still create difficulties when the parents decide to break up. If the parents haven’t established paternity before the split, the biological father of the child might not have custody or visitation rights. Likewise, the biological mother might not have the rights to child support.

When a heterosexual couple is married and has a child, the baby is considered to be the biological product of that marriage. Both parents’ names will go onto the birth certificate, which creates a legal bond between parent and child. If the parents are unmarried, they will have to sign a declaration stating the father is the biological parent of the child. Alternatively, the father or non-biological parent of the child can adopt the baby to create a legal bond; for example, if the couple is same-sex and one of the couple is the biological parent, the other half of the couple can adopt the child and establish parentage that way.

Once parentage is established under California law, both parents must assume the full rights and responsibilities of parenthood. If the couple separates, therefore, both of them have equal rights to custody and visitation. Likewise, if one parent is awarded physical custody of the child, that parent has the right to collect child support from the other parent.

If you need to establish parentage and the other parent won’t cooperate, you can ask the court to order a paternity test. The Department of Child Support Services can perform the test, which usually comes at no cost to either parent.

Talk to me, a skilled Westlake Village family law attorney, if you’re interested in establishing the parentage of your child. My firm, the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff, can offer more than 30 years of legal experience. I am dedicated to providing client-focused services to all kinds of family law matters. Let me see what I can do for you and your family.

Contact me at (805) 633-4999 or fill out the online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

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