Parental rights refer to a parent’s legal ability to make decisions and take action on behalf of their child or children. These rights are usually considered automatic for biological parents, foster parents, adoptive parents and legal guardians.
In situations where the parents may be going through a divorce, or when a someone who has been present in a child’s life may not be a biological parent, parental rights may come into question.
Understanding Parental Rights
“Parental rights” is an term which relates to a number of parenting-related issues, including:
- Establishing parentage
- Requests for genetic (DNA) testing
- Disputing parentage
- Situations where parentage is presumed (i.e. the parents were married)
- Same-sex couple second parent adoption
Why Establishing Legal Parentage Is Important
Establishing that you are a legal parent of a child ensures that your child has access to many legal rights and benefits, including:
- Support orders
It also ensures that your children can benefit from other rights, including health insurance, social security and inheritance rights.
How Paternity Is Established for Unwed Parents in California
The best way for a father’s paternity to be established is for him to be named on the child’s birth certificate. All unwed parents must be offered the opportunity to establish paternity by having the father voluntarily sign a declaration of paternity.
If the father is not present at the hospital after the birth, the mother will not be able to list him as the father on the child’s birth certificate. In these situations parents can sign the voluntary declaration of paternity at a later date in order to establish paternity.
If the parents break up before the declaration is signed, a mother may need to bring legal action in order to confirm paternity if the ex-partner refuses to sign the voluntary declaration.
Parental Rights for Non-Biological Parents
A person that is not related to a child may be able to assume full legal and physical custody of a child. This may be the result of an adoption, or it may happen when one spouse marries someone who is not the child’s biological parent.
In these situations, non-biological parents typically have the same rights as biological parents as long as they are legally recognized as being that child’s parent. A non-biological parent may even be able to obtain more parental rights than the biological parent if a biological parent is not able to fulfil his or her parental duties (this may be due to incarceration or incapacity).
Parental Rights after a Parent Has Transferred Custody
The transferring of parental custody to another parent does not necessarily mean that the rights of the transferring parent are completely terminated. He or she may be able to retain some of their rights, particularly if physical custody is being divorced between both parents.
These rights are known as “residual parental rights” and may include:
- The right to visit the child
- The right to consent to a child’s adoption
- The rights to conclude on a child’s religious participation
Child Custody and Parental Rights
California family courts will often allow divorced parents to try and come to a child custody agreement on their own outside of court. If the parents are not able to come to an agreement, the court will get involved and come up with a child custody plan based on a variety of factors:
- The amount of contact and the child’s relationship with both parents
- If there is a history of frequent alcohol or illegal drug use
- If either parent has a history of domestic violence
- If either parent has recently been convicted of illegal activity or substance use
- The child’s age, physical health and mental health
- The interests of the parents are taken into account. But family courts will always hold the best interests of the child or children as their first priority.
How Lavinsky Law Can Help
Understanding your parental rights is critical in ensuring the health and well-being of your children. This often means enlisting in the help of a qualified Los Angeles Divorce & family law attorney like Lavinsky Law.
Lavinsky Law is conveniently located in West Los Angeles and has been helping families in Los Angeles County live happier and more peaceful lives since 2013.
If you have questions about your parental rights or would like to discuss your unique situation, we invite you to contact Lavinsky Law today at (310) 274-2717.
If you have questions or would like more information regarding Paternity and Parentage Services in California
Contact Lavinsky Law Today
Lavinsky Law is located in Los Angeles, California and serves clients in Los Angeles County, including Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Burbank, Culver City, Encino, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Redondo Beach,Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Norwalk, Pomona, San Fernando, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Torrance, Van Nuys, Westwood, South Bay, and El Segundo, CA.