In regard to the family unit, parents have a legal right to have a relationship with their children. When it comes to fathers' rights, California family law courts use the "best interests of the child" standard.
State laws see that both fathers and mothers have an equal opportunity at establishing a relationship with their children, meaning they both have the right to seek custody and visitation rights. These rights remain regardless of the parents' relationship, mainly if they were married or not when the child was born.
Additionally, the court system or other government agencies are not allowed to interfere in a parent/child relationship unless it is absolutely necessary to protect the kid. So, for example, when a judge evaluates which parent receives the title of the custodian, both the mother and father are evaluated on an equal playing field.
Keep in mind, fathers' rights to visitation and reunification services depend on which parentage (paternity) group they fit into. While alleged parents have the fewest rights, presumed parents have the most.
In dependency court, persons (other than the biological mother), who may be a parent are put into three of the following groups:
- Alleged parents - A person is considered an alleged father or parent if the mother of the child in question has told the social worker that he is the father or other parent. He is also considered an alleged father or other parent if he shows up to the first hearing and says that he is the parent of the child. Alleged parents have very few rights in dependency cases. For instance, they do not have the right to custody or reunification services.
- Biological fathers - A person is a biological father if a DNA shows that he is the father of the child or he has a judgment of paternity from a family law court. A biological father has the right to notice of dependency hearings and the right to show that he is a presumed father. The court can also provide reunification services.
- Presumed parents - A person can qualify as a presumed parent in several ways, such as having his name on the child's birth certificate, there is a family court order that establishes a relationship, or acting like the child is his own and raised the child as his own. A presumed parent has the right to visitation, custody, and reunification services. However, the presumed parent category does not necessarily apply only to men.
If you believe that your right to a relationship with your child is being compromised or you are not receiving the same support a mother would receive in the same situation, it is in your best interest to seek experienced legal assistance from a qualified lawyer. At Westover Law Group, our Murrieta family lawyers deliver effective legal strategies backed by experience and thorough preparation. We can evaluate your case and determine the best course of legal action to obtain the most favorable results possible.
Contact us for more information today.