In the state of California, parental rights for fathers are incredibly important – and they’re equal to maternal rights. Under state law, fathers have just as much right to see, spend time with and bond with their children as mothers do, and the state (as well as the courts) recognize how important it is for both parents to be active participants in their kids’ lives.
Parental Rights for Fathers
When parents are married at the time of a child’s birth, paternity is presumed. That means the mother’s husband is automatically considered to be the child’s father. That extends past marriage, though – if a child is born and someone is living with the family and fulfilling a fatherly role (by demonstrating a commitment to the child), that person can also be considered the child’s father, even if he isn’t biologically related.
If neither of these circumstances are present, you need to establish your paternity.
California’s Parental Rights: Fathers’ Rights to Custody and Visitation
As a father, you have the absolute right to seek custody and visitation rights with your children. The law doesn’t discriminate between dads and moms – instead, each parent has equal rights (and equal responsibilities) when it comes to being with the kids.
There are two types of custody: Legal and physical.
|Legal custody refers to a parent’s authority to participate in big decisions about the child’s health, education and welfare. Most parents share legal custody.||Legal custody refers to a parent’s authority to participate in big decisions about the child’s health, education and welfare. Most parents share legal custody.|
If you and your spouse don’t agree to who gets legal and physical custody between yourselves, either as joint custody or full custody, the judge in your case will decide for you. When the judge has to decide, he or she will look at several factors – but the bottom line is that the judge’s decision is supposed to be based on what’s best for the children.
These are some of the factors judges look at in deciding who gets custody in California:
- The child’s age
- The child’s health
- The emotional ties that exist between each parent and the child
- The child’s ties to school, home and the community
- The ability of each parent to emotionally, financially and physically care for the child
- Whether there’s a history of family violence
- Whether there’s a history of substance abuse in the family
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Parental Rights for Fathers?
If you’re not sure where you stand in all of this, you’re not alone – a lot of people are thrown off by the fact that California, like most states, used to favor the mother when it came to rights to the children.
But that was a long time ago, and now, the law and the judges who execute it see mothers and fathers as equals.
We can help you preserve your parental rights as a father, whether you and your ex disagree about child custody, child support or anything else – and we can help you if you agree, too.
Call us at (209) 546-6246 for a divorce case review. You’ll talk to an experienced Stockton divorce lawyer who can give you the advice you need to begin moving forward.