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Fathers’ rights and the different categories in dependency court

| Jan 18, 2021 | Fathers' Rights

In California, when child custody and visitation is in dispute, there is often a perception that the fathers take a backseat to the mothers in terms of rights. Under the law, fathers are supposed to be granted the same chance to receive custody as mothers and, if the mother has custody, the father is expected to be allowed to spend time with the child. A common issue with fathers’ rights is parentage and paternity. There may be a disagreement as to the identity of the father or whether a person can be considered a legal parent. For fathers’ rights issues, it is important to have legal assistance from the start.

Categories of parents in dependency court

When a case goes to dependency court, people other than the biological mother who may be considered a parent are categorized in three ways. They are an alleged parent; a biological father; and a presumed parent. A person will be an alleged parent if the mother informs a social worker he is the father. People who appear at a hearing and state that they are the parent will be an alleged parent. Being an alleged parent does not grant many rights if there is a dispute over dependency. That person can try to prove presumed parentage at the hearing.

The biological father is relatively self-explanatory. This can be shown via a DNA test or a judgment of paternity from the court. The biological father has the rights that accompany being the father. That parent has the right to be reunified with the child or to have custody and visitation. A person will be a presumed parent if the name is on the birth certificate, there was a family court order that established parentage, or the person behaved as if he or she was the parent and took part in raising the child. Presumed parents have various rights including the right to care for the child, visit the child or to have custody.

Fathers seeking acknowledgment and rights should have legal help

It can be difficult for a father who is not treated as if he is the legal parent of a child and does not get the rights that accompany that acknowledgment. To be granted the right to see the child, take part in his or her life, have custody and more, it is important to understand how state law addresses these matters. For assistance with fathers’ rights in any context, it is wise to consult with a firm that is experienced in all areas of family law. This can be beneficial for a successful outcome.