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Fathers’ Rights

McKean Family Law > Fathers’ Rights

About Fathers’ Rights


In the past forty to fifty years the numbers of births to unmarried parents have led to an increased awareness and focus on the fathers of these children. These men are referred to as alleged, presumed, reputed, or putative fathers and many of them are seeking recognition of their legal rights in courts across the nation, and therefore expanding their roles in the upbringing of their children. Many of these fathers have every desire to share in the lives and parenting of their children, either as unmarried fathers or following their divorce.


The fathers’ rights movement emerged in the West in the 1960s and continues to effect social and political change in America today. In the past family courts across the country preferred to award custody to the mother over a father in a divorce; however, today’s modern courts don’t automatically assume the mother is the better choice and instead give the father equal consideration when making a decision regarding child custody.


Rights of Unmarried Fathers


Historically, unmarried fathers have had fewer rights than unwed mothers or married parents in regards to their minor children. In the past several decades, this has shifted and is no longer the case. In California, both parents are presumed to have the rights to raise their children.


  1. You are considered a “presumed parent” if Your name is on your child’s birth certificate,
  2. There is a family court order that establishes parental relationship, or,
  3. You have acted like the child is your own and raised the child as your own.


You may be a presumed parent with legal rights to the child, even if you are not certain that the child is yours, or even if you know you are not the child’s biological parent. There are many complex issues surrounding paternity that an attorney can help with.


Sacramento Area Fathers’ Rights Attorney


Fathers’ rights are fundamentally the same as mothers but they can be more difficult to establish if there is uncertainty or a dispute over who the biological father of the child is. In cases where the biological father and mother were never married, it may become necessary for the father to establish paternity before he has any legal rights or responsibilities for his child. Genetic testing is the standard method if there is a dispute between the parents regarding paternity. Genetic testing is only needed if there is a dispute over who the child’s biological parents are.


Once paternity is established through the courts, the father enjoys the rights, privileges, and responsibilities towards his child and these include the obligation to pay child support and more importantly, the right to pursue visitation and custody of his child, for he can now take ownership over these rights.


In the absence of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness or a serious criminal record, fathers have the same rights to their children as the child’s natural mother. When seeking custody orders through divorce, legal separation, or paternity action, it may be necessary for a father to enlist the services of a family law attorney to ensure his rights are established and protected.


At McKean Family Law, we have experience in these sometimes complex issues.  We understand how fathers’ rights are a sensitive issue and that the outcome of your proceedings can impact your relationship with your child permanently. Please call us, McKean Family Law, to schedule your initial consultation with us so we can help you with your case.

Call us at 916-666-7874 or contact us for a free consultation today!