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Unmarried Parents

Unmarried Parents Lawyer Serving Contra Costa County

Many people are surprised to learn the dramatic differences in child support laws and how they apply to unmarried versus married parents. As a general rule, the mother and father of the child, or children, are treated separately in the context of a child support order rendered by a family court in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, or Contra Costa County. In addition, the Court is vested with the authority to establish the best custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child, or children. 

Rights of an Unmarried Mother

In California, an unmarried mother will automatically gain custody of a child. In fact, an unmarried mother does not have to do anything to attain this level of custody. The unmarried mother will have full responsibility for the child's general wellbeing, including living arrangements, education, health care, and so forth.

Rights of an Unmarried Father

In stark contrast, California law does not vest any inherent rights with an unmarried father. First and foremost, the father must establish paternity. Once established, the father has earned the right to negotiate with the mother regarding major decisions for their child's wellbeing. The father can also acquire legal rights to provide child support, request a visitation schedule, and other arrangements agreed between both parties and with the court's approval.

Court Proceedings to Assess Child Support between Unmarried Parents

If an unmarried parent files a petition for child custody, a court in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, or Contra Costa County will schedule a hearing in the case. The court will weigh the arguments made by both parties before concluding and rendering a decision. The focus of the Court is to enter a decision that will benefit the child's welfare, notwithstanding the fact that mothers are expected to get automatic full custody. 

The Court can also consider what a reasonable parent would do to handle a child custody dispute and determine which parent the child will be happiest with. This means the Court has the ability to award sole custody to one parent or award joint custody to both parents.

The court can also award temporary custody of a child if necessary during the custody and dispute process. As a general rule, the court will not award temporary custody unless it is likely the parent will have the child's best interests at heart.

Have Questions about the Laws Governing Unmarried Parents in Contra Costa County? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you have questions related to the laws and guidelines governing unmarried parents in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, or Contra Costa County, California, taking action by contacting The Geller Firm today. Our team of experienced and respected Lafayette divorce and family law attorneys are here to help. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Pleasanton. Our legal team is available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.