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Understanding California family law for unmarried parents

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Family Law |

Family law has many nuances, especially for unmarried parents. You should understand your rights and responsibilities to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your children.

There are several things to consider when it comes to family law for unmarried California parents.

Legal paternity

Unmarried fathers who want to have legal rights and responsibilities for their children must establish paternity. In California, you can establish legal paternity through a voluntary declaration of paternity or a court order. After establishing paternity, the father has the right to seek custody and visitation and faces a financial support obligation.

Custody orders

Unmarried parents must also establish child custody and visitation arrangements. The main concern of the court is the best interests of the child. The court may award joint or sole physical and legal custody based on various factors, such as the age of the child, the parent’s ability to co-parent and any history of domestic violence or substance abuse.

Child support

Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, regardless of their marital status. California courts calculate child support using a formula that takes into account things such as how much time the child spends with each parent, each parent’s income and any additional expenses such as healthcare or education costs. This ensures a fair, balanced distribution of expenses so that parents share the responsibility.

The family court system focuses on what is best for the child involved, which typically means encouraging a relationship with both parents. Establishing legal paternity helps set clear expectations for parents and children alike.