In California, there is a presumption that the husband of a biological mother is the father of an unborn child. If the unborn child’s father is not the mother’s husband, he should take immediate steps to establish paternity to ensure that his legal rights are protected.

Once the child is born, the most common way of establishing paternity is through obtaining a court order declaring that the father is the child’s natural and biological father with certain legal rights and responsibilities.  

California Child Custody Laws and Unborn Children

California child custody laws do not apply to unborn children.  However, a putative father can take the following steps to protect his parental and custodial rights prior to the birth of a baby:

  • Sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity and submit it to the Department of Child support services through the Parentage Opportunity Program (POP)
  • File a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship in the family court
  • Request genetic testing to prove paternity of the child

Until a man is proven to be a child’s biological father or voluntarily acknowledges paternity, he has no enforceable parental rights to access and custody of that child. This permits the mother of the child to allow or withhold visitation at will.  

Putative Fathers Cannot Impede Pregnant Mothers’ Right to Travel Freely

There are no laws preventing pregnant women to move out of the state in which the father resides. Family courts cannot determine custody of an unborn baby, and cannot penalize a pregnant mother for moving to another state prior to the baby’s birth.

Once a child is born, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), dictates that the state with jurisdiction over a child under 6 months old is the state in which the child was born.

Establishing Parentage of Children is Vital to Children’s Futures 

Parentage is the establishment of a legal relationship between a father and child to provide basic emotional, social, and economic ties.  

Parentage permits children:

  • The right to inheritance
  • Medical and life insurance benefits
  • Social security
  • Potentially, veterans’ benefits

Children’s early knowledge of their fathers allows them to develop a sense of familial identity and a connection with the father’s side of the family. It may also be crucial for access to the father’s family health history in medical crises.  

As a legally established parent, fathers have the right to be notified of:

  • Adoption proceedings
  • Juvenile court hearings
  • Custody hearings involving a child

They also may have the right of access to and receive copies of school, medical, dental, religious training, and other important records and information about a child.                                         

An Experienced Custody Attorney Can Help You     

If you are the father of an unborn baby and need help establishing child custody and visitation rights, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Fernandez & Karney. Your early commitment to your child will benefit them greatly both at birth and in the future.

Call Fernandez & Karney today and schedule your no-obligation consultation. Our Los Angeles child custody attorneys can answer your questions and address your concerns regarding parentage and legal rights to your child.