About Fathers’ Rights

In the past forty to fifty years the numbers of births to unmarried parents have lead to an increased awareness and focus on the fathers of these children. These men are referred to as alleged, presumed, reputed, or putative fathers and many of them are seeking recognition of their legal rights in courts across the nation, and therefore expanding their roles in the upbringing of their children. Many of these fathers have every desire to share in the parenting of their children with the child's mother, either as unmarried fathers or following their divorce.

The fathers' rights movement emerged in the West in the 1960s and continues to effect social and political change in America today. In the past family courts across the country preferred to award custody to the mother over a father in a divorce; however, today's modern courts don't automatically assume the mother is the better choice and instead give the father equal consideration when making a decision regarding child custody.

Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Historically, unmarried fathers have had fewer rights than unwed mothers or married parents in regards to their minor children. In the past several decades unmarried fathers have challenged the termination of their parental rights in adoption cases in which the birth mother relinquished her child for adoption. In a number of cases the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional protections to unmarried fathers' parental rights when the father has a substantial relationship with his child. The Supreme Court found that the biological link between father and child establishes the substantial relationship. This is described as the father's commitment to the responsibilities of being a parent, as the father demonstrates by attempting to be in or being involved in the child's upbringing.

Regardless of the Supreme Court's stance on the biological link between father and child, each state has complete discretion to determine the rights of unmarried fathers whose legal relationship with a child has not been established for the purposes of terminating parental rights in adoption proceedings.

Under Family Code §§ 7601; 7611, the parent and child relationship is the legal relationship that exists between the child and the child's natural or adoptive parents for which the law imposes rights, privileges, duties and obligations. This term includes the relationship with the mother and child as well as the father and child. In California, a man is presumed the natural father of a child under the following circumstances:

  • He was married to the child's natural mother when the child was born, or the child was born within 300 days after the marriage was terminated or by a judgment of separation.
  • Before the child was born he attempted to marry the child's natural mother, and although the marriage was declared invalid, the child was born within 300 days after the declaration of invalidity or divorce, or the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation.
  • After the child's birth he and the natural mother attempted to marry, or married, and although the attempted marriage is declared invalid the following is true: he consents to having his name on the birth certificate, and he is obligated to pay child support under a written promise or by a court order.
  • He welcomes the child into his home and he openly declares the child to be his natural child.

Orange County Fathers' Rights Attorney

Fathers' rights are basically the same as mothers but they can be more difficult to enforce, simply because it's harder to dispute a mother's biological connection through childbirth. In cases where the biological father and mother were never married, it will become necessary for the father to establish paternity before he has any legal rights or responsibilities for his child. Once paternity is established through the courts, the father enjoys the rights, privileges, and responsibilities towards his child and these include the obligation to pay child support and more importantly, the right to pursue visitation and custody of his child, for he can now take ownership over these rights.

In the absence of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness or a serious criminal record, married fathers have the same rights to their children as the child's natural mother. When seeking a legal separation or a divorce it will be necessary for a married father to enlist the services of a Laguna Hills divorce attorney.

At The Law Offices of Gary J. Beeler, Esq., I have more than 20 years experience in the legal field and I have a 98% success rate with my clients. I understand how fathers' rights are a sensitive issue and how the outcome of your proceedings can impact your relationship with your child permanently. Please call me, Gary J. Beeler to schedule your initial consultation with me at the firm so I can help you with your important matter.