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What Are My Custodial Rights as an Unwed Father in California?

At the Land Legal Group, our Los Angeles divorce attorney blog has discussed important topics like which parent is more likely to gain child custody after a divorce and whether a child can choose which parent they want to live with after a divorce.

But what happens when the parents were never married? Can unwed fathers gain custody of their child(ren) when they split with the other parent?

What if the father never had a relationship with the other parent? Does he still have custody rights?

Our Los Angeles child custody attorneys have answers, and the experience to help fathers ensure their rights are not violated, simply because they do not know what they are entitled to as parents.

Step One: Establish Paternity

The first step unwed fathers must take to obtain custody or visitation with their child(ren) is to petition the court for a paternity suit. The paternity suit petitions the court to provide the father with access to his child.

What’s the Next Step in Enforcing My Custodial Rights as a Father in Los Angeles?

Our California family courts review child custody petitions based on the idea that contact with both parents is within the child’s best interests.

Once paternity is established, the father may petition the court for visitation, custody, or both.

  • Visitation is the act of having your legal right granted to visit a child in the custody of the other parent. While this means something different for every dad, a typical visitation schedule may include weeknight visits, overnight stays, and extended access to the child during school breaks.
  • Custody is the act of care, control, and maintenance of a child, which may be awarded in different capacities, including:
    • Legal Custody: Allows a parent to make long-term life decisions relating to their minor children, including where they go to school and what religion they observe.
    • Physical Custody: Dictates where the children live.
    • Sole Custody: One parent has full custody of the children.
    • Joint Custody: The child splits his or her time between the two parents’ homes.

No matter which type of custody you are trying to pursue, you will want to partner with an experienced child custody attorney in Los Angeles to ensure you are given the proper consideration by the court. This is especially true if you and the mother were never in a relationship since you must show the benefits of your involvement in the child’s life.

This is also true if you are building a custody case based on the mother’s inability to properly care for the child, which could include:

  • Evidence of unfit behavior
  • Reports of neglect or abuse
  • Any cases with child protective service agencies

Judges look at many factors when determining both visitation and custody matters and will make their decision based on the circumstances of the case and the evidence presented to the court.

With our experienced Los Angeles child custody lawyer by your side, we will review the facts of the case, and your legal right to be involved in your child’s life and petition the court for the best outcome available for your unique circumstances.

Contact Our Los Angeles Child Custody Attorneys at the Land Legal Group Today

If you are a father who wants to be more involved with your child’s upbringing and would like to pursue your rights, contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys at the Land Legal Group to discuss the details of your concerns today during a free consultation by calling (310)552-3500.

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