Understanding Fathers Rights in California

Fathers rights in California depend on the claim to paternity. The easiest way to do so would be through a DNA test. Alleged fathers do not have custodial rights, nor do they have rights for reunification. However, they do have the right to prove that they are a presumed parent. If you are not the child’s biological father but have been raising the child, you still have the right to continue being the child’s father.

This is only true if you can prove that a parental relationship exists, and that you have been raising the child as your own. You may be considered a “de-facto parent.” According to the State of California, “No law says exactly what a “de facto parent” needs to be. Judges make this decision based on other court cases and on rule 5.502(10) of the California Rules of Court.”

Furthermore, “He or she will consider the care you gave the child and how long you did it. Also, the judge will decide if you can help the court understand what is best for the child.” As a presumed parent – one who has been taking an active role in raising the child as your own, whether biological or not – you have the right to reunification services, custody, and visitation.

Along these lines, a fathers rights in California allow you to be in your child’s life. Additionally, as per custody agreements, this may extend to making decisions on behalf of your child for his/her education, upbringing, and various medical procedures. If you believe that your right to visitation, custody, or reunification is being hindered, you may pursue legal action.

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Legal Options for Fathers Rights in California

Fathers rights in California can be revoked if the court deems you unfit as a parent. Unless you have a history of addiction, mental health problems, or a proven history deeming you unfit as a parent due to poor decision-making, you may be dealing with false allegations. Despite the potential of penalization, false allegations are unfortunately common in custody cases.

An article in the South Texas Law Review cites a report indicating that “40% of cases involving sexual abuse accusations were divorce and custody cases, and in three-fourths of these cases, there was no determination of abuse by the legal system.” To protect your rights, you must be proactive. Seek help immediately, and work with legal professionals to refute any outrageous claims against your character and your abilities as a father.

Courts award fathers visitation or custodial rights only after fathers display that they can fulfill their obligations as a parent, and that they have the time and room in their lives for a child. If anything suggests you cannot make time or room for your child, or are otherwise incapable of caring for them, your chances of receiving custody or visitation are slim.

However, reputable attorneys can help you prove to the court that you are a capable and loving father, deserving of the right to play a major role in your child’s life. Awarding custody primarily to mothers is a practice that goes back to the Tender Age doctrine. While today’s California courts are obligated to award custody to the best parent regardless of gender, there is much historical background in the explanation of the age-old preference of mothers over fathers in custody battles.

Furthermore, the younger the child is, the more the courts favor the parent with more time to spend with their child, and fewer work obligations. The opinions of older children have more weight the closer they are to 18. It’s critical that a parent can prove they not only have the financial means to support their child, but they are also expected to provide for the child’s psychological and developmental needs.

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When to Seek Legal Help and Guidance

Custody rights cases do not have to be dramatic, and they can go smoothly. According to the Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, only one in every five custodial parents is a father. Yet that same publication reports that number has been on a slow rise over the past 22 years, from 16 percent in 1994, to 19.6 percent in 2016.

However, that does not mean you shouldn’t seek a professional opinion. Be aware of your fathers rights in California and keep an eye out for potential allegations against you. Also, be wary of attempts by the mother of your child to force parental alienation, sabotaging your relationship with your child. Besides the right to be a father to your child, you also have the legal claim to defend those rights in court.


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