Legal Protection for Single Parents in California
The most common cases in the Orange County family law courts tend to involve married couples, i.e. husband and wives. There are, however, times when a case is a little different and is likely to involve single parents. The way the law in Orange County operates with respect to single parents can be a bit different from the way it works when dealing with married couples. In most states, the rights of the single parents, especially of the father, are a bare minimum unless they decide to ask for them.
The basis of California law in terms of single parents is that a single parent, i.e. the father, needs to prove that he is the father, as opposed to the vice versa assumption in the couple’s cases. This article will highlight the key aspects of the California law with respect to single parents, thus highlighting the legal path they can adopt to seek legal protection and rights.
The Automatic Custody of the Child is with the Mother, Pending Establishment of Paternity
There is seldom a doubt regarding the identity of the child’s mother. This is because the mother is the one who gives birth and the hospital records etc. make it impossible to doubt that. In family law, a single parent mother will have what amounts to de facto physical and legal custody of the child from the day of the birth of the child, until the paternity is determined, i.e. that the father of the child is in fact the biological father, which is generally determined by genetic DNA testing. What is important to understand is that when married couples have a child, there is a legal presumption that the husband and wife are the biological parents of the child. When couples have a child but are not married, there is no legal presumption that the father is in fact the biological father of the child, and that can only be established by either genetic DNA testing or by stipulation of both parties that the father is in fact the biological father of the child.
The Father Must Prove He is the Father
Again, any child that is born out of wedlock means that the mother is the custodial parent, and the father has to take two major legal steps to have some degree of authority or control over his child’s life. The first step is that he needs to prove that he is the rightful father in terms of biology. The second aspect is to go to the court or an Orange County mediator to get custody or visitation of their child. Paternity can be proved by the father signing the acknowledgment form and the mother signing it too or by petitioning in the court and asking for a paternity test to settle the issue.
A Proven Father Generally Must Support The Child
Once the paternity is proven or acknowledged, the father now will have the same rights as a married father would have, but that also means that the father could be expected to pay child support depending on the income of the parties and percentage of custodial time that each party has as determined by the court. These funds are going to be given to the mother and the amount can be decided mutually through Orange County divorce mediation or by Orange County family law proceedings.
To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, “What is Divorce Mediation.”