Do Unmarried Parents Have Parental Rights?

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    Becoming a parent is a major life event that can often change your legal rights and responsibilities forever. However, parental rights can be tricky and often vary by state. For this reason, it’s important to consult a family law attorney if you need help assessing your rights or are seeking to change them. In general, though, California provides limited rights for unmarried parents, particularly unwed fathers or non-birthing parents.

    What Kind of Parental Rights Are Available?

    Establishing parentage, or your child’s legal parents, can be a complex legal hurdle if you and your partner are unwed. However, it isn’t impossible, and positioning yourself as your child’s legal parent now can help streamline legal processes in the future. Parental rights may include custody, visitation, reunification, and the ability to make important decisions for your child. The court may even consider your family members when deciding where a child should live.

    What Types of Parents Does the Court Recognize?

    In California family court, there are three types of parents – alleged parents, biological parents, and presumed parents.

    The court classifies alleged parents through word of mouth. For example, if you or your partner state to the court that you are the parent of your child, the court labels you the alleged parent.

    If DNA links you and the child in question, you are classified as a biological parent. Parents who gave birth to the child or who took a DNA test that establishes them as their child’s biological parent fall into this category.

    Presumed parents are those whom the court has legally claimed as the child’s parent. Being named on the birth certificate, caring for the child for a long period of time, or receiving a court order establishing parentage can help you become the presumed parent.

    What Rights Do Unmarried Parents Have in California?

    In situations with unmarried heteronormative parents, the mother who birthed the child would be considered the biological parent and would have automatic custody and full parental rights of the child. The father of the child would likely have to establish parentage and potentially adopt the child to receive similar rights.

    Generally, the same would be true of same-sex couples in which one parent birthed the child. The other parent would simply be unable to establish themselves as a biological parent and would, instead, need to claim alleged or presumed parentage.

    In California, alleged parents only have the right to attempt to establish presumed parentage. Biological parents who did not birth the child have the right to prove they are the presumed parent and the right to reunification. Finally, presumed parents have the rights to visitation, reunification, and custody.

    Determining your rights, though, is a job for your attorney and the court.

    Filing Family Law Documents in the Inland Empire

    Once you’ve consulted your attorney and begun your family law process, you’ll need to file plenty of legal paperwork. Don’t rely on cheap online services to help you file some of the most important documents of your life. Let the experienced legal document assistants at ProSe Legal help you file them right the first time. With the right help, your proceedings will go as smoothly as possible.

    If you need help completing your Family Law paperwork, today or call (909) 497-1349.