Going through a divorce and custody battle is always a stressful and confusing time for parents. When a married couple gets divorced, there is usually a child custody hearing that will determine the many complex child custody issues. This is a common proceeding that the courts see every day, but how are child custody issues determined when the two parents are not married?
Unmarried Parents and Child Custody
In California, unmarried couples will face many of the same child custody issues that married couples do. There are a few differences though, and even though laws vary by state, we will focus on California law. California courts will want to determine who the biological parents of the child are before they enforce any court orders. When a married couple has a child, it is presumed that the wife and husband are the parents of the child. With unmarried couples, it works a bit different as there is no presumption of who the parents are. This is when paternity needs to be done.
The Unmarried Mother
When an unmarried woman gives birth to a child, she automatically is presumed to have natural rights to the child. She has legal rights to control every aspect of her child’s life. The only way that her rights can ever be taken away is if it was proven that she was an unfit mother.
The Unmarried Father
An unmarried father that wants to continue to be part of his child’s life after parting ways with the mother can do so. He will have to take an extra step than what married fathers have to do. The first thing that the courts will want to do is establish paternity. What this does is give legal recognition to a person as being the child’s biological parent. Without establishing paternity, a court cannot give a father any custody rights as it has not been proven to the court that he is the biological father of the child. A mother will not be able to collect any child support from a man that has not been proven as the father. Once parentage is proven, the courts can continue on with their proceedings and deal with child custody and support issues. Sometimes, it is very easy for a father to establish paternity and other times it is a bit more complicated. A legal declaration can be signed by the father stating that he is the biological parent of the child, presuming the mother admits that he is the father.
Let Us Help You
If you had a child as an unmarried couple and are going through child custody issues, we here at Beyer, Pongratz & Rosen recommend you to contact us as soon as possible. We are an experienced family law firm located in Sacramento, CA. and have the knowledge in all types of family law court proceedings to help you achieve a favorable outcome. We will listen to you and guide you through the whole process. We will help relieve any stress and anxiety that you may feel about the child custody process. We understand the pressure that people feel when they walk into a courtroom. Contact us as soon as possible, and let us start working on your case.