Orange County Fathers Rights Lawyers
Fathers Rights in Orange County
All families deal with diverse challenges, even in beautiful Orange County, California. Unique challenges lie in wait for unmarried parents in California who separate. Unlike their married counterparts, unwed fathers would not automatically be resumed to be the biological fathers of their children. This is in spite of the fact that their name may appear on the children’s birth certificates. Some problems this can present include a mother having difficulty recovering child support from the father, or a father having a hard time locking down custody or visitation. Here are some typical situations faced by unmarried fathers in California when they separate from their children’s mother.
The term “paternity” (also known as “parentage”) speaks of the legal recognition of a man as a child’s biological father. When a child is born under wedlock, the law automatically presumes that the wife is the biological mother and the husband is the biological father. In the event that a couple divorces, there is no need to establish parentage for legal purposes unless there is some outlying reason to challenge it.
On the flipside there is no such presumption in the case of unwedded parents. Parentage is only established if the father voluntarily signs a declaration stating he is the true biological father or, in some cases, if a judge makes such a determination as part of a parentage matter in court.
After parentage is established pursuant to the California Family Code, the parents must assume the full rights and responsibilities regarding their children. That means he can seek fathers rights in the form of custody or visitation, but it also means that he is also responsible for financially supporting his child. Without a parentage declaration,some difficulties lie in the wake of separation for unmarried parents and their children.
The Unmarried Father and Child Support
One common situation an unmarried father faces is one where the mother feels she is caring for a child without receiving any child support from the father. Sometimes a father provides voluntary financial support for many months, or even years, and at some point needs to make a change to what they provide for any number of reasons. Whether the father was previously making child support payments or none at all, the only way to force a father to pay a set amount of child support (or any at all) is with a court order.
The mother could, alternatively, request financial assistance from the government. If she does, the government will file a lawsuit against the father to go after a welfare reimbursement. In order to get reimbursed, the government must establish paternity first. Even in non-welfare cases, the court is still obligated to make a parentage determination before it can order child support and enforce financial obligations.
An enforceable child support order contains some features that a father must be aware of:
- First, the parent owing support would not be able to evade financial responsibility by filing for bankruptcy.
- Second, child support gets priority under the law. What this means is that if the paying parent has other creditors, child support stands to the front of the line for payment.
- Third, child support can be enforced using a wage assignment. In a wage assignment, the court can order that child support is automatically deducted from the parent’s paycheck. Some parents opt for this to make it simpler to make payments on time.
- Fourth, an enforceable child support order levies penalties for late payments and nonpayment.
The Unmarried Fathers Rights as a Parent
Sometimes, unmarried fathers feel cheated by the legal system when it comes to the issue of their children. So often, unmarried fathers are expected to make child support payments and can be prosecuted for failing to pay. Nonetheless, the government does not go to bat on behalf of fathers who attempt to enforce their right to be a present in their children’s lives. In the absence of a court order, an unmarried father does not have any legal right to see his child and any informal agreements that may have existed between parents are not taken into account by the court. The only recourse unmarried fathers in Orange County have is to get court orders that recognize and protect a fathers rights to child custody and visitation.
Child custody orders additionally affect an unmarried father’s child support obligation. This is because child support is calculated using a calculation that considers both the gross income of both parents and the percentage of time that parents spend with a child. It is important to be aware that a court will not consider the time an unmarried father spends with his children unless there are court orders in place regarding visitation. With no custody and visitation orders, the court will place the time-share between father and child at zero percent (0%). As a result, child support is set at the maximum level.