Under California paternity law, children born out of wedlock are no different than children born into the marriage. The same custody rights and support obligations apply. Yet there are commonly disputes over whether a man is a father and what his role will be in the child’s life.
At The Law Offices of Teresa A. Beyers, we are attuned to the sensitive nature of paternity situations. We work to resolve conflicts out of court when possible, but our experienced lawyer is ready to fight for your parental rights and your child’s best interests. We represent fathers and mothers in paternity cases in the San Fernando Valley and through Greater Los Angeles.
A DNA test can establish paternity, by court order if necessary. Upon a finding of paternity:
The mother can seek child support, retroactive to the date of the paternity action (not to the date of birth). If necessary, a judge can hold the father in contempt of court and authorize garnishment of wages or other remedies to collect unpaid support.
The mother cannot keep the father away from their child merely because she doesn’t like him or she is in a new relationship. However, a mother can object to custody or visitation on the grounds that the father is abusive, an addict, or otherwise unfit to parent.
The father has every right to seek co-custody or visitation. However, the courts are reluctant to create an “instant dad” if the father has not been involved with the child. A family court judge will commonly institute a step-up plan: supervised visitation at first, then unsupervised visits, then full-day visits or overnights, and eventually shared custody if appropriate. If the mother is unfit, the father can sue for sole or primary custody.
Family law attorney Teresa Beyers has extensive experience with paternity and child custody matters. She can explain your rights and help you negotiate a realistic parenting plan or represent you in contested courtroom proceedings.