Some unmarried fathers in California might struggle to get custody of their children or pay child support. Although fathers are supposed to have equal rights along with mothers, over 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers. Fathers who don't pay child support might go to jail. Fathers may also be prevented from seeing their children because of protection orders or may struggle to get time with them because of paternity issues.
Experts recommend that fathers who are struggling with child support try to pay something even if it is not the full amount. Fathers who fall behind will still be required to pay back support, but in some circumstances, such as job loss, a judge may modify payments. Having an attorney could help with the modification process.
Unmarried fathers may need to take steps to establish their paternity. A father may increase his chances of getting child support if he does this sooner rather than later. Getting access to the child might be more difficult if the court has to track down the father. In cases where a protective order has been filed against the father, the father might attempt to gather evidence to counter the charges. Above all, fathers should try to avoid reacting with anger since this will usually make the divorce/custody process more difficult.
In some cases, parents might be able to negotiate an agreement for child custody and visitation. This may take many different forms depending on the individual situations of the parents and children. For example, parents might decide to share custody. This could mean the child spends alternating weeks with each parent, or the child might move between households during the week. A parent whose visitation time is limited to just a few days a month might want to talk to an attorney about how to get that time increased.