Child Support for Unmarried Parents
Unmarried parents in California face unique challenges when it comes to child support and custody. Unlike married parents, single fathers are not automatically presumed to be the biological parent of their children. This can cause additional hurdles for them in family court, including recovering child support as well as getting child custody or visitation. Getting legal advice from a family attorney can help save time and frustration in dealing with family law courts and the other parent.
Paternity refers to the legal recognition of a person as a child’s biological parent. When a child is born to married parents, the law presumes that the husband is the biological father and the wife is the biological mother, thereby establishing paternity. When parents are unmarried, parentage is established only if a person voluntarily signs a declaration stating he or she is a biological parent or if the court makes the determination, typically after DNA testing.
Once parentage is established under California law, a parent may seek custody or visitation. Of course, they will also be held responsible for financially supporting the child.
The Benefits of a Child Support Order for Unmarried Parents
What often happens is that a mother receives voluntary financial support for many months, or even years, and then the father stops paying. There is no way to force a father to pay child support without a court order. An enforceable child support order provides many advantages as child support is given priority under the law. The parent owing support may not evade financial responsibility by filing for bankruptcy. Child support can also be enforced through a wage assignment. An enforceable child support order also provides penalties for late payments and nonpayment. A family law attorney can help you file the correct forms to avoid delays.
Mothers can request assistance from the government, but paternity must be established before it can order child support and enforce financial obligations. This applies even in non-welfare cases. Child custody orders can also affect an unmarried father’s child support obligation because child support is calculated using the gross income of both parents and the percentage of time that each parent spends with their child. Without a court order, an unmarried father has no legal right to see his child as informal agreements between parents are not recognized by the court. Getting legal advice from a family law attorney experienced in father’s rights is the best recourse to seek court orders that will recognize and protect the father’s right to child custody and visitation.
Legal Advice for Unmarried Parents
The State of California provides protection for unmarried parents. If you need help understanding, enforcing and preserving these rights, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced family law attorney.