Many people believe that courts in the state of California have progressive child support and custody laws that affect former couples who have children together, but never considered marriage. Unfortunately, progressive or not, it is up to the non-custodial parent to get the ball rolling if he or she wishes to spend time with his or her child. Once parentage is determined, single parents face the same processes as their married counterparts when it comes to supporting their children. In fact, single parents can face even more legal hurdles without ever having been married. It is easy to determine paternity, yet even with the father’s name on a birth certificate, as far as the family courts in the state of California go, there exists no presumption of paternity if he is not married to the child’s mother.
For mothers, who are almost always the primary and even sole caretaker for their babies when they are not married to the father, must provide proof via legally established paternity records, before she can seek child support. If the father does not agree to DNA testing, it is the mother who must then file a complaint with the court requesting it demand the assumed father to undergo paternity testing. It can be time consuming and as any parent knows, babies have no concept of time because their needs are immediate.
But, what happens when a cohabiting couple have a child together and then decide to break up? There is a good chance that the father will have no rights until he goes to court to establish them. This usually is part of a child support hearing, and it might take some time before the court date arrives.This can make it difficult for a non-custodial parent (usually the father) to see his child, depending on how amicable the break up was with the child’s mother.
If it seems as though the cards are stacked against a non-custodial parent, it is because it is. Fathers who avoid paying child support face legal prosecution and California district attorney’s offices are seeing more of these cases.Also, until some type of court order is made, the custodial parent can make any changes he or she wishes, including rescinding visits with the child outside of a court order.
Few things are more important than the relationship between a parent and child. There can be a lot of red tape that delays these opportunities to bond with one’s own child. It is important that the parents work together for the benefit of their child or children. Legal options available in the state of California can take a significant amount of time to get through the system, but this can be avoided.
Unmarried parents might wish to consider the benefits of a child custody mediator. If possible, parents can work out a fair child support and visitation agreement between themselves and then file the agreement with a court clerk. Both of these options can truly minimize lost time between a non-custodial parent and his or her child.
For more information, speak to our child support attorneys.