In California, both a mother and a father have a right to be involved in their child’s upbringing. Parents who are raising a child while living in separate homes should work together whenever possible to develop a parenting plan and custody arrangement in which responsibility for the children is divided. When parents cannot reach a custody arrangement, a judge will determine how custody is divided based on what is in the child’s best interests.
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For a father to be entitled to custody, paternity must be established. In some cases, legal intervention is required in order for this to occur. When the issue of paternity and custody becomes complicated, an experienced Irvine, CA family law attorney at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can help. Our attorneys have more than 75 years of collective experience and are recognized for providing top-notch client service in the field of family law. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can represent you in your paternity and custody case. Or, you can find out about our mediation services.
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Fathers should establish paternity as soon as possible after a child is born to have the strongest claim to a child. However, even if paternity is not established until later in a child’s life, the father may still be entitled to seek shared or even sole custody depending upon the family circumstance.
When a child is born to a married couple, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child. When a child is born to unmarried parents, however, there are several different ways to establish the parentage of the child. Options include:
- A father signing a voluntary declaration of paternity
- Asking the local child support agency to help establish paternity
- Going to court yourself to establish the child’s father
Either a mother or a father can initiate a legal action to establish paternity. If either the mother or the father is unwilling to cooperate, the court may order a DNA test be performed so that the child’s parents can be determined conclusively.
Once paternity is established, the father will be obligated to pay child support if he does not have custody of the child. Support may not be waived, and a standard formula is used to determine how much support must be paid. Child support is required even if the father does not visit with the child or play an active role in the life of the child.
The establishment of paternity also gives the father a legal claim to the child. He may petition the court to seek custody and it is usually considered in the child’s best interests to have some type of ongoing relationship with both parents.
Getting Legal Help on Paternity and Custody Matters
Brown & Charbonneau, LLP has represented both mothers and fathers in paternity and custody cases. We know that your relationship with your children is one of the most important in your life and that you will do anything to protect them and provide them with the resources and support they need and deserve. Let us help.