One of the most common misconceptions that unmarried fathers have is that since they are listed on their child’s birth certificate, or have signed some type of document at the hospital acknowledging that they are the biological father, that they are entitled to custody and parenting time. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true.
In fact, California law requires fathers of children born out of wedlock to petition for custody and parenting time rights. As a matter of law, an unmarried woman who gives birth to a child is given sole legal and sole physical custody of the child until a father obtains a court order granting custody and parenting time. This means that mom may dictate whether dad has access to the child, and may determine when and how long dad (or anyone else, for that matter) may spend with the child.
So when dad gets frustrated that he doesn’t get enough time with the child (or any time at all), he can rest assured that he has legal rights that can be asserted, even though it may appear that he is being treated unfairly. This may be the reason why so many fathers feel as if they are at a significant disadvantage when they are in court petitioning for time.
So if you are an unmarried father who is being denied parenting time and are frustrated over not being able to be a part of your child’s life, or are led to believe that parenting time is conditioned upon payment of child support, an experienced family law attorney can help.