CUSTODY ISSUES FOR UNWED PARENTS
In California, when a child is born to two individuals who are not married, custody issues may require some specific attention. Many circumstances involving unwed parents who do not remain together as a couple result in the birth mother receiving custody of the child, but there do remain some variables to address.
Unlike some other states, California prefers for both parents to assume responsibility for raising the child, and generally seeks to award joint custody to both parents. However, in many cases, this practically means that the mother receives custody.
Most of the issues surrounding custody for unmarried parents revolve around establishing paternity or the fitness of the mother to raise the child. In California, an unmarried father does not have a child support obligation until his paternity is established. Many fathers find themselves trapped in a difficult spot where they want to pursue some form of custody, but worry that they may end up stuck with child support obligations and no rights to participate in the life of the child. While this is a legitimate concern, California courts tend to emphasize mutual involvement on the part of parents.
Depending on the circumstances, a mother may not be the best person in a child’s life to fill the role of primary caretaker. In these instances, a court may examine other figures, such as the father or grandparents of the child, to identify who can provide the best support and security for the child if the mother cannot or will not do so.
Child custody may seem relatively straightforward compared to other legal issues, but it’s often the personal aspects of a conflict that make it difficult to reach a fair, equitable solution. If you have a need relating to unwed child custody, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who understands how to navigate the California legal system for the best interests of the child you love.
Source: FindLaw, “Custody and Visitation in Non-Divorce Cases,” accessed June 14, 2017