FAQ: In California Can I Terminate the Father’s Rights Prior to the Birth?
In California Can I Terminate the Father’s Rights Prior to the Birth? In certain circumstances, it is possible to terminate a father’s parental rights prior to the birth of the child in California. However, if the father wishes to maintain his rights, it can be difficult to do, and there must be a good legal reason for doing so. In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child and the state of California for the father to be in the child’s life and to support the child financially.
If paternity has not been established, the father has no parental rights. It can be easier to remove a father’s rights to a child through disproving paternity in California prior to establishing it.
Does a Father Have Parental Rights for an Unborn Child in California?
Generally, in California, a man is presumed to be a child’s father in the following situations.
• If the man was married to the child’s mother either at the time the child was conceived, or at the time the child was born;
• If the father made an attempt at marrying the mother, and the child was conceived or was born during the (invalid) marriage;
• If the man married the mother after the child was born, and either agreed to put his name on the child’s birth certificate, or agreed to support the child;
• If the man openly treated the child as his own or welcomed the child into his home, even if he is not the biological child.
If a person is presumed to be the child’s father, he will have all the legal rights and responsibilities for that child when it is born. If none of these situations apply, then parental rights do not need to be terminated prior to the birth of the child because the father has no rights to the child.
However, a man can try to establish paternity, in which case either parent may dispute the paternity. Before paternity is established, it can be argued, however, once it has been established, it can be extremely difficult to undo, and it will need to be shown that it is not in the child’s best interest to spend time with the father, or for the father to have rights to the child.
Prior to the birth, the father will have no rights or responsibilities, so any paternity case or case regarding parental rights refers to the rights and responsibilities of the parent once the child is born.
How is Paternity Established in OC California?
If none of the above situations apply, and paternity has not been established, there are several ways that a father can attempt to establish paternity in California: he can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, or obtain a court order stating that he is the legal father, and therefore has legal parental rights. This may include genetic testing, which can be done prior to the birth.
The voluntary declaration of paternity can only be signed either at the hospital when the child is born, or following the birth. So if you wish to terminate parental rights prior to the child’s birth, paternity must be established another way (perhaps through the presumption of paternity). If the father is not aware of when or where the child is born, he cannot sign the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the hospital, and this method of establishing paternity may not be an option for him.
With a court order, a father can establish paternity of a child. There are two ways to do this: on your own or with a fathers' rights lawyer, and with the help of your local child support agency. Again, once paternity has been established, a father will have legal rights and obligations regarding the child. Undoing paternity is difficult, and it will be necessary to prove that it is not in the best interest of the child for the father to have parental rights.
Disputing Paternity in California (and Ending a Father’s Parental Rights)
Depending on how paternity is being established, there are various ways to dispute it.
If paternity has not yet been established, the father will need to attempt to establish paternity. If he volunteers for a paternity test and the results state that there is a high likelihood that he is the father, he can ask for a trial regarding the issue of paternity in his favor, using the DNA results as evidence. Unless you can show that it is not in the best interest of the child for the father to have rights, the court will likely grant them. DNA testing can be done prior to the birth of the child, but it can be difficult and dangerous for the mother and the child.
If both parents have signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (the child is probably already born), either parent can cancel the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity by filing a Declaration of Paternity Rescission if it has been less than 60 days since the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity was signed, and no case has been started using the Declaration of Paternity.
A Voluntary Declaration of Paternity can also be rescinded through the court, but the process can be complicated, and you may not be able to prevent the other parent from establishing paternity.
If a court order has established paternity, there is usually little that you can do to dispute it. Your best bet in this case is to discuss the specifics of your case with fathers' rights attorneys, and rather than disputing paternity, you may try to show that it is in the child’s best interest for the father not to have rights.
Petition to Terminate Parental Rights in OC CA
Orange County Paternity and Parental Rights Attorney
Disputing parental rights can be tricky in California, and it is best done with the help of a qualified lawyer. Contact Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney.