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What are my child rights if I never married?

August 5, 2021 Uncategorized

Are you a single father who wants to learn more about your parental rights, responsibilities, and legal obligations to your child? If that’s the case, you’re not alone.

“One-in-four parents living with a child in the United States now is unmarried,” according to the Pew Research Center. This is a significant change from a half-century earlier, when fewer than one-in-ten parents living with their children were unmarried (7%) due to overall marriage decreases and increases in births outside of marriage.

According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of unmarried fathers has more than doubled in the last 50 years, owing to an increase in the number of cohabiting parents. Only 12% of unmarried fathers lived with their children in 1968, but that percentage has climbed considerably to 29% now. 

Moreover, the research explained that “The growth in unmarried parenthood overall has been driven by several demographic trends. Perhaps most important has been the decline in the share of people overall who are married. In 1970, about seven-in-ten U.S. adults ages 18 and older were married; in 2016, that share stood at 50%. Both delays in marriage and long-term increases in divorce have fueled this trend.” 

It’s no surprise that, in light of Pew’s findings and the increased number of children born outside of marriage, concerns regarding unmarried fathers’ rights have arisen.

Mothers who are not married have automatic rights

When a child is born to unmarried parents, the mother has sole physical and legal custody. Even if the kid is biologically his, the father has no rights or responsibilities toward his child until paternity is legally proven.

The mother of the child has the final say over:

  • Who can see her child and when they can do so
  • Whether the father can see her child
  • Who looks after her child
  • Where the child gets medical care
  • Whether or not she wants to apply for public assistance on the child’s behalf

The family court’s options are limited until paternity is confirmed. It cannot issue child support or custody orders, but if paternity has been established, the court is allowed to do so.

Even if the mother has sole physical and legal custody until paternity is confirmed, she should allow the father to see his kid and the father should strive to assist the mother financially because these gestures will benefit each party’s family law case in the future.

What Does It Mean to Establish Paternity?

According to the California Courts, establishing paternity entails signing an official declaration of paternity or obtaining a court order stating who the legal parents of a child are.. “…if the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until parentage is established. So even if a father can prove he is the biological father of a child, if he was never married to the mother, he does not legally have any rights or responsibilities for the child. For that, parentage must be established legally,” say the California Courts.

As previously stated, paternity must be established before the court can issue child support, custody, or visitation. As part of their paternity case, a mother might ask the judge for child support, and a suspected father can ask for custody or visitation. The court can require the supposed father and child to submit to a DNA test if the guy is not 100 percent certain he is the father or if he has any doubts and refuses to admit it.

When a man is determined to be the biological and legal father of a child, he has the same rights and duties as a father who was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth:

  • He will be entitled to seek child custody and visitation, often known as “parenting time,” in order to see his child lawfully.
  • He is also responsible for paying child support until his child reaches the age of 18, or 19 if he is still enrolled full-time in high school.
  • He will be responsible to cover his half of his child’s medical expenses.
  • If the mother needs to work or go to school to earn a decent job, he will be responsible for half of the childcare fees.

The Child Benefits When Paternity is Established

For children born out of wedlock, establishing paternity is critical. For starters, knowing who their father is provides emotional benefits to youngsters. Children born to unmarried parents have the same legal rights and privileges as children born to married parents.

Financial support from both parents, legal documentation that identifies both parents, the father’s name on the child’s birth certificate, access to the father’s medical records and history, the right to inherit from both the mother and father, and the right to receive Social Security and veteran’s benefits, if applicable, are some of these legal rights and privileges the child will be entitled to.

Paternity Disputes in California

If a man is told by a woman that he is the father of her kid, he has the right to ask for a DNA test if he isn’t sure. DNA testing are straightforward, painless, and extremely accurate. Because saliva carries DNA, a cotton swab resembling a Q-tip is gently rubbed inside the mouth to capture DNA samples.

Request a free consultation with Spodek Law Group if you require legal assistance with a paternity matter.



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