Long Beach Father’s Rights Lawyers
Father’s Rights in Long Beach
All families are faced with diverse challenges, even in lovely Long Beach, California. Unique challenges lie ahead for unmarried parents in California who part ways. Unwed fathers are not automatically presumed to be the biological fathers of their children, unlike their wedded counterparts. Despite the fact that their name is on the children’s birth certificates, a father’s rights may still come into question. Some problems that come along with questionable paternity include a mother having difficulty procuring child support from the father, or a father having a hard time nailing down custody or visitation. A variety of challenges confront unmarried fathers in California when they separate from their children’s mother.
Establishing a Father’s Paternity
The word “paternity” (also known as “parentage”) refers to the legal recognition of a man as the biological father of a child. When a baby is born in wedlock, courts automatically presume that the husband is the biological father and the wife is the biological mother. When divorce becomes a reality, establishing parentage for legal purposes is not a necessity unless there is some outlying reason to challenge it.
On the other hand, there is no such presumption in the case of unwedded fathers. Parentage can only be established when the father voluntarily signs a declaration that affirms that he is the true biological father or, in some situations, if a judge determines the paternity as part of a parentage matter in court.
Once parentage is established pursuant to the Family Code, the parents need to assume the full rights and responsibilities with regards to their children. That said, the father is within his rights to seek custody or visitation, but it also means that he is responsible for supporting his child financially. In the absence of a parentage declaration, there are difficulties that lie in the aftermath of separation for unmarried parents and their children.
Child Support: The Unmarried Father
One frequently occurring situation an unmarried father can face is one where the mother believes she is caring for a child without any support from the father. In some scenarios, a father provides voluntary financial support over many months or years, and at some point he may need to change what they provide for any number of reasons. Whether the father was indeed making child support payments previously or not, the only way to make a father pay a set amount of monthly child support (or any at all) is by a court order.
If necessary, a mother might request financial assistance from the government. If she does this, the government files suit against the father to go after a welfare reimbursement. In order to be reimbursed, the government needs to first establish paternity. Even in non-welfare matters, the court is obligated to make a parentage decision before it can order child support payments and enforce financial obligations.
An enforceable child support order has some features in it that a father must be aware of:
- The parent owing support would not be capable of evading financial responsibility by filing for bankruptcy.
- Child support receives priority under the law. In other words, if the paying parent has other creditors, child support is in front of the line for payment.
- Child support can be enforced via a wage assignment. With a wage assignment, the court can order child support to be automatically deducted from the parent’s paycheck. Some parents choose this payment method to make it simpler to make payments on time.
- An enforceable child support order carries penalties for late payments and nonpayment.
The Unmarried Fathers Parental Rights
At times, unmarried fathers believe they are being cheated by the legal system when it comes to matters involving their children. In many cases, unmarried fathers are expected to pay child support and they can be prosecuted for neglecting to pay. Nonetheless, the government does not stand in defense of fathers who attempt to enforce their right to be a presence in their children’s lives. Without a court order in place, an unmarried has no legal right to see his child. Additionally, any informal agreements that may have previously existed between parents are not taken into account by the courts. The only recourse unmarried fathers in Long Beach have is to obtain court orders that recognize and protect a father’s right to custody and visitation.
Child custody orders do have an effect on an unmarried father’s child support obligation. This is because child support is calculated using an equation that considers the gross income of both parents and the percentage of time that each parent spends with their children. It’s important to be aware that a court will not account for the time an unmarried father spends with his children unless court orders are in place with regards to visitation. Without custody and visitation orders, the court would start the time-share between father and child at zero percent (0%). Because of this, child support would be set at the maximum level.