Unmarried Parents Rights If you are or are about to become the unmarried parent of a child, it is essential that you establish parentage in order to protect your rights and ensure the wellbeing of your child. “Establishing parentage” means determining who the legal parents of a child are if the parents were not married when the child was born. Unmarried parents may not fully realize the importance of legally establishing parentage, even when the unmarried parents are enjoying a harmonious relationship. Should an unforeseen rift occur down the road, and legal parentage has not been established, issues including child custody, child visitation, and child support cannot be addressed by the court. Until paternity is established, the father does not have the legal rights or responsibilities of a parent, including the ability to make decisions about the welfare of the child. California family law Uniform Parentage Act found in California Family Code 7630, addresses the rights of an unmarried parent to establish paternity.
Psychologists believe that a child should have two parents. The court wants to find parentage for children. This is evident in their ruling of the following case.
No one knows this better than actor Jason Patric, a star of films including The Lost Boys, and grandson of legendary actor Jackie Gleason. On May 14, 2014, a California appeals court ruled that actor Jason Patric can seek legal custody of his four-year-old son Gus, who was conceived through in-vitro fertilization. The decision has been acclaimed as a landmark ruling in paternity rights of a sperm donor who has demonstrated a close and committed relationship with his child. Wednesday’s decision set a new legal precedent in California law for the rights of sperm donors. Interpreting state family law, California courts had never recognized a right of a sperm donor who isn’t married to the mother to make a paternity claim. In the past, California law had granted full custody to the mother unless there was a written agreement establishing parental rights before conception, and based on this, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied The Lost Boys star access to his son. But according to Wednesday’s decision, California appeals court judge Thomas Willhite says that the presumption against in vitro fathers shouldn’t be “so categorical,” and that the family law code “does not preclude a donor from establishing that he is a presumed father.”
Legal parents each have a right to pursue child custody and or parenting time also known as visitation. Once custody is established, a custodial parent cannot deprive the other legal parent of parent time/visitation rights. Unmarried partners who are not considered the legal parent of a child, on the other hand, can only gain custody in extraordinary circumstances, and may have limited access to the child.
When a court determines custody and parenting time for a child, it looks to the best interests of the child. It is in the best interest of the children when parents can work together cooperatively to establish custody and parent agreements.
Carol Delzer of Family Law Center has an online parent education class that is highly recommended. You can find it at www.CollaborativeCoparenting.com.