When an unmarried woman has a child, the mother is legally granted parental responsibility. This means the father has no legal rights to the child without first obtaining a court order. In other words, the courts do not automatically consider an unwed father to be the child’s biological father. This is by design because it protects unmarried women from pursuing child support when the father’s rights have not been established. 

If you are a father who is considering custody of your children, you should hire a family lawyer in Modesto, CA. This lawyer can help you understand the rights you have as a father and can guide you through the process of getting custody. Custody cases are often difficult, but with the help of an experienced lawyer like Attorney Bernie, you can have the best chance of winning custody of your children.

Establishing Paternity 

If a father wants custody of his child or visitation rights, he must first establish paternity. In undisputed paternity cases, both parents will sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the court. If the paternity case is disputed, the court can request that the father submit a DNA test to either confirm that he is the child’s biological child or rule out that possibility. Some states have a dual filing process where a father can automatically ask for custody rights when filing for recognition of paternity. 

Submitting a Parenting Plan

Once paternity is established, the parents must work out the child custody agreement and develop a parenting plan. This plan should detail specifics related to primary custody, visitation periods and who can make decisions about the child’s health care and education.

When it comes to family law, fathers often feel like they are at a disadvantage. This is especially true when it comes to custody rights. However, there are ways for fathers to protect their rights and ensure that they have a voice in decisions regarding their children. One way to do this is by hiring a family lawyer in Modesto, CA.

Petitioning the Court

If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the father has a right to petition the court to seek custody of the child. By doing so, the father is essentially asking the court to act in the child’s best interest when deciding who should get custody. 

It is rare for a father to become the sole custodian of a child if the mother has been acting as the primary caregiver. The father must show that it is unsafe for the child to continue living with the mother. In cases where the mother loses her role as primary caregiver, she typically has a history of child abuse or has a problem with drugs or alcohol. 

Seeking Legal Guidance

The laws regulating an unmarried father’s custody rights are complex, and understanding how a father must operate within the boundaries of those laws can be difficult without informed legal representation.

If you are an unmarried father who wants to exercise his parental rights and seek custody of his children, then contact a child custody lawyer for guidance. A lawyer will have a breadth of resources available to you and can help answer any questions you may have.