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What unmarried fathers should know about child custody and visitation rights

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2021 | Custody & Visitation |

California gives both parents the right to custody and visitation with their children. However, single fathers must take steps to establish legal paternity so they can build a relationship that lasts a lifetime. 

Review the process of seeking child custody and visitation as an unmarried father in California. 

Establishing paternity

The state presumes a man to be a child’s father if he has married or lives and shares a relationship with the mother. When the parents do not have a relationship, the man must take action to become the child’s legal father in the eyes of the court. 

When both parents agree about the father’s identity, they can sign a legal action of paternity and submit it to the court. Otherwise, the father can request a paternity action from the court, which will involve a DNA test.  

Seeking custody or visitation

The father can ask the court to decide about custody and visitation when filing his petition for a paternity action. The court can order the father to pay child support and provide the child with health insurance. 

Generally, the court requires parents to share legal custody, or the right to make important decisions for the child. Both parents also have the right to see a child regularly unless the parental relationship has a negative impact on the child’s best interests. 

To decide on a visitation schedule, the judge will consider the child’s age, his or her current adjustment to home and school, whether either parent has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, each parent’s ability to provide care, and the child’s health.