Fathers' Rights Lawyers

Fathers' Rights in California Family Law

Once upon a time, there was a presumption in the family courts, and in society in general, that mothers, not fathers, were more capable of raising a child or children. The 1960s and 1970s saw the beginning of the erosion of that presumption.

This mostly occurred due to the Feminist Movement of the 1960s and the Men’s' Rights Movement (MRM) that followed. Today, the presumption that a mother is better suited than a father to raise a child no longer exists...at least not in the family law courts.

Today, a father has legal rights to child custody, child visitation, and child support, and those legal rights are equal to the child’s mother.

Proving Paternity First: Before a father has legal rights to his child, and legal responsibilities for his child, the father must prove that he is the legal father. A legal father is not necessarily the child’s biological father. A legal father can be any of the following: 1) a child’s biological father when the biological father’s parental rights have not been terminated, 2) a child’s adopted stepfather, or 3) a man who established parental through a declaration of paternity that is not challenged within a certain amount of time (usually two years).

Biological Legal Father: A child born during marriage is presumed to be the biological child of the married couple. Therefore, a father does not need to prove his paternity in order to have parental rights and responsibilities to his children born during marriage. Of course, sometimes a child born during marriage is not the biological child of the husband. A person, other than the presumed father (husband) may file a paternity suit in order to establish his father’s rights.

Note: The time is limited to file a paternity suit to establish legal rights to a child that was born to a woman who was married to another man at the time of the child’s birth (usually two years from the child’s birth date). Also, if the married man has already established a close relationship to the child that he truly believed was his, then the family law court may grant visitation to the previously presumed father (husband).

Also, the presumption of parentage between a husband and his child applies, so long as the husband's child is born no less than 270 days after the date of marriage, and so long as the child's mother is still married to husband at the time of child's birth.

Adopted Stepfather: An adopted stepfather has all the legal rights and responsibilities to a child as though the adopted stepfather was the child’s biological father. An adopted stepfather keeps these rights and responsibilities to his adopted minor children even if the child’s legal mother and the adopted stepfather later divorce, or obtain a legal separation.

Note: Before a stepfather is entitled to child custody, child visitation, or child support rights to his stepchild, he must first be granted a stepparent adoption related to his stepchild. In other words, no matter how close a stepfather is to his minor child, he will not have legal rights (or legal responsibilities) to his stepchild without a stepparent adoption (some exceptions apply). For more information, see Stepparent Adoptions.

Declaration of Paternity: A person may establish parental rights and responsibilities to a child by filing a declaration of paternity. A declaration of paternity is a sworn statement, wherein a man, who believes he is the biological father of a child, declares that he is the biological father of the child.

 

A declaration of paternity does not have to be signed by a husband who had a child during marriage. This is because the husband who had a child during marriage is presumed to be the biological father of the child born during marriage (see above).

 

Of course, a person who signs and files a declaration of paternity may be wrong about his biological relationship to a child. Therefore, a declaration of paternity may be challenged by either the child’s mother, or another man within a certain time period (usually within two years after the declaration of paternity is signed).

As stated, a child born to a married couple is presumed to be the biological child of the husband (presumed paternity). The presumption of paternity does not apply to an unmarried father even if the child's father and mother agree that the father is the biological father. Therefore, before an unmarried biological father has legal rights to his own child, he must first establish his paternity to his child (parentage). Establishing paternity is accomplished through a paternity suit.

Once any unresolved paternity issues are resolved, a father has rights to his children that are equal to his children’s mother’s rights. Also, after paternity issues are resolved, if any, a father’s legal presumptions are equal to his child’s mother’s presumptions. Those legal presumptions include the fact that a legal father is as capable as a mother to raise and protect his child

Fathers' Rights Include, but are not limited, to the following:

A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to have a relationship with his child, and with some limitation, to know where his child lives when his child is with the child’s mother or legal guardian(s);

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to legal and physical custody of his child, including primary custody. (See Child Custody for more information)

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to visit his child, including holiday visitation;

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to receive child support from the other parent;

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to request a modification of court orders related to his child (See Modification of Court Orders);

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a mother, to object to a stepparent adoption, guardianship, or third party child custody request, of his minor child:

  • Fathers' right include a right, equal to a legal mother, to be notified before any questioning of his minor child by law enforcement;

  • Fathers' rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to take his child on vacation, or obtain a travel passport for his child if necessary;

  • Fathers' rights include a rights, equal to a legal mother, to discipline his child, including the use of reasonable corporal punishment if necessary;

  • A legal father has a right to object to paternity suits advanced by another man;

  • A legal father has a right, equal to a legal mother, to move his child’s residence (with some limitations (See Child Move Away Requests);

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to obtain medical documents, birth certificates, dental records, and school records of his child;

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to protect his child from other people by bringing a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) on his child's behalf;

  • A legal father's rights include a right, subject to limitations, and not necessarily equal to a mother's right, to time off of work to raise his newborn child (Family Medical Leave Act issues). Note: Family Medical Leave Act Law is quickly changing and advancing in favor of granting equal benefits to both the child’s mother, and the child’s legal father;

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to have his rights enforced by a judge's contempt power (For more information, see Contempt of Court);

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to object to his minor child's request for emancipation (For more information, see Emancipation of Minors);

  • A legal father's rights include a legal right, equal to a legal mother, to object to a removal of his child by child protective services and the juvenile dependency court (For more information, see Juvenile Dependency Court Issues);

  • A legal father's rights include a rights, equal to a legal mother, to inherit from his child or children, and, to have his child or children named as his heirs in absence of a will;

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to object to his child’s grandparents’ petition to establish grandparents’ rights (i.e. visitation of their grandchild);

  • A legal father's rights include a right, equal to a legal mother, to object to his child’s name change after divorce or legal separation (For more information, see Changing a Child’s Name); and more.

Note: Remember, a legal fathers' rights and responsibilities apply whether or not the father was ever married to his child’s mother, so long as the father first establishes his paternity to his child.

Important: Fathers and mothers have the same legal rights with respect to the issues listed above; however, some rights belong to the mother as a person, as opposed to mother as a mother.

For example, a father can not object to a mother obtaining an abortion, or object to the mother's refusal to allow the father to be present in the delivery room. Those rights belong to the mother as a person, not to the mother because she is a mom.

Fathers' Responsibilities: Much of this page is dedicated to the rights that belong to a father in family court. But remember, a father also has many responsibilities to his child. These responsibilities include raising and caring for his child, providing emotional and financial support for his child, and protecting his child from danger, including any danger presented by his child's mother, if necessary (i.e. mother's drug abuse, failure to protect, child endangerment, etc.).

Note: A legal parent to a child has a duty to protect his or her child from another person, including the child’s other parent if necessary, if another person, or the child’s other parent, presents a danger to his or her child.

For example, if dad knows that mom is an alcoholic, and that mom is abusive towards their children when mom drinks alcohol, then dad could be criminally liable if he does not protect his children from their mother.

The most common situations where a father may be criminally liable for failure to protect his child against the child’s mother occurs in the context of mother’s drug and alcohol abuse. Of course, a mother is also criminally liable where she does not protect her children form her children’s father if mother believes her children are in danger from father’s abusive or neglectful conduct towards a child.

Fathers' Rights Lawyers: To learn more about father rights, contact our divorce and family law attorneys today. We are among the largest and most experienced divorce and family law firms in the Inland Empire. We offer services in fathers' rights, mothers' rights, divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time (child visitation), domestic violence restraining orders (DVRO), prenuptial agreements, legal separations, guardianship, paternity suits, and more. First-time, in-office consultations are free to all fathers and mothers. Call today!

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Fathers Rights Lawyers
Attorneys for Fathers' Rights

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Chino, Eastvale, Hemet, Beaumont, Ontario, Yucaipa, Highland, Banning, Jurupa Valley, Rialto, San Bernardino, Fontana, Riverside, Colton
 

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