Establishing Visitation Rights for Unmarried Parents

Establishing visitation rights for unmarried parents often presents a legal challenge. In such cases, it’s important to settle the question of paternity, determine rightful custody as well as make appropriate child support arrangements. When you add visitation rights to the mix, things can become much more complex. This is true especially if the parents are divorced or were never initially married. While the best interests of the child are always the primary concern, as a parent you have certain rights. A family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks can ensure that you protect your rights and responsibilities.

Unwed parents who separate after the birth of their child should set up legal visitation in to protect themselves. In many cases, conflict between the two individuals or simply relying on promises can make things difficult. Therefore, seeking the help of a qualified divorce attorney is necessary to navigate the family court system.

What Are the Legal Rights of Unwed Mothers?

Generally, the courts will award sole custody to the mother, since typically the birth certificate only lists her name. In instances like this, the father will have to prove that he is the biological parent. He must prove paternity to establish whether he even has custodial rights. Until paternity is proven, under California state law, the mother is presumed to be the only legal parent. However, if the court believes the unmarried mother to be unfit to provide adequate care or has abandoned the child, the father can contest this in court.

Legal physical custody gives the mother the right to make important decisions when it comes to raising the child.  She’ll have the right to make decisions regarding:

  • Schooling or childcare
  • Religion
  • Place or residence
  • Healthcare

As the only legal parent, in the eyes of the law the mother is solely responsible for the general well being of the child. Yes, without proving paternity the father has no legal obligation to provide child support.

However, in many cases the unmarried parents come to an agreement for the father to take on an active role by contributing to caring for the child by perhaps paying for daycare, buying groceries or in other vital ways. This arrangement can be successful for a period of time. But things often change, and with no legally binding rights the father can choose to cease support at any given time.

What Are the Rights of the Unmarried Father?

If the parents are unmarried, the biological father can be granted visitation rights. However, if the birth certificate does not list the father’s name, he doesn’t have any legal claim over his child. As previously mentioned, establishing paternity with the state of California is the first step to gaining legal recognition as a parent and being able to obtain a legally binding visitation schedule. In addition, this will allow the father to have an active role in making decisions regarding they’re child’s welfare.

Unwed Parents Who Live Together

What about an unmarried couple who lives and raises their child together? Often, in situations like this, both adults have an active parenting role. Nonetheless, the nonlegal parents don’t have any legal rights. They are unable to make important decisions as to where the child lives, medical treatment and how the child should be raised.

The best legal option for a non-biological parent is a second parent adoption which allows them to adopt their partner’s child giving them legal claim. In order for the court to grant a second parent adoption, both biological parents must approve it. If the court deems the biological parents to be unfit or aren’t in the child’s life a second parent, adoption can take place with just one parent’s approval.

Contact California Family Lawyer to Learn More About Visitation Rights for Unmarried Parents

The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks has over fifteen years of experience in navigating the California family law system. Let us use our legal expertise to help find the best solution for your family. Our team of experienced family attorneys works hard to help unmarried couples establish legally binding visitation rights. To learn more about visitation rights for unmarried parents, call us today.