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What Are the Parental Rights of Unmarried Parents?

Unmarried parents can sometimes have legal complications when they decide to separate. Unlike their married counterparts, unwed fathers, for example, are not automatically presumed to be the biological parents of their children, even if they are listed on the birth certificate. This lack of legal connection can prevent a mother from receiving child support from the father and a father from getting custody or visitation rights.

Before this becomes an issue, it's best to establish parentage (or paternity) as early as possible. Parentage refers to the legal recognition of a person as a child's biological parent. With a married heterosexual couple, the law presumes any child from that marriage is the biological child of that couple. If that couple divorces, there is usually no need to establish parentage. However, if a parent is unmarried, such a presumption isn't made.

To establish parentage, both parents can sign voluntary Declaration of Paternity, which is a form that, when signed by both parents, confirms them as the legal parents of a child. Once the declaration is signed, the form can be filed with the California Department of Child Support Services Paternity Opportunity Program to be effective.

If one parent won't participate in signing the form, the parent who wishes to establish paternity can get a court order on their own or with the help of a local child support agency. This order will allow genetic testing to be conducted on the potential parent and the child to determine a genetic match.

Talk to one of the skilled San Mateo family law attorneys at my firm, if you're having issues as an unmarried parent. Chase, Berenstein and Murray Counselors at Law is dedicated to providing the highest level of professionalism and integrity to clients. I have more than 25 years of legal experience to offer your case. Let me see how I can help you and your family.

Contact me at (650) 516-4777 or fill out the online form to schedule a confidential consultation today.

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